The Alimond Show

Curt Peterson Owner of Zero Limit Lifestyle

February 22, 2024 Alimond Studio
The Alimond Show
Curt Peterson Owner of Zero Limit Lifestyle
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Ever dreamt about starting a promotional business from scratch? Well, our esteemed guest from Sterling has done just that! We delve into their compelling journey of establishing a thriving screen printing and embroidery venture. From its humble beginnings under Potomac River Running in 2008 to its current state, with a dedicated team operating from a warehouse, it's a tale filled with ups and downs. Get ready to see how the magic happens behind the scenes and learn about the significant role networking and local events play in collecting customers.

What if the key to exponential business growth was hiding within your community? Our guest, a local business owner from Northern Virginia, swears by it. The power of word-of-mouth referrals, strategic social media use, and being a good person in the community has led to their business flourishing. Despite juggling the roles of a single dad and youth hockey coach, their commitment to the community never wavers. Hear about their plans for future business expansion and how they plan to give back even more to the community.

And what about the person behind the business? We often forget that personal growth plays a pivotal role in business success. Our guest shares their valuable insights into managing stress and cultivating a positive mindset through practices like breathwork and meditation. Their story stands as proof that being in tune with oneself can significantly transform business trajectories. So, strap in, get inspired, and discover how you too can apply these insights to your entrepreneurial journey.

Speaker 1:

So we're at screen printing embroidery promotional business in Sterling. Yeah, we handle everything merch related, so apparel caps, water bottles, you name it. We could probably get it for you.

Speaker 2:

Now, how did you start the business?

Speaker 1:

So I actually started in 2008 under Potomac River Running. So they're awesome. They are all over DC now. I don't know if you're familiar with the brand, but yeah, I started under them. My business name originally was PR Team Sales, so kind of fell under their umbrella. I was a manager of their store for a couple of years and then I signed a contract of Referee Miley Pro Hockey which kind of removed me from that position and they offered me the opportunity to start a Team Sales business which I started from scratch. So I've been doing it since 2008.

Speaker 2:

Tell me a little bit about that. What does that consist of?

Speaker 1:

Starting it, starting the whole, I think-.

Speaker 2:

You really emphasized that from scratch.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think. Well, I try to be humble about where we've come, but it's been a lot of work. Obviously, I think me being an athlete, it's kind of like a competition. For me is trying to figure out from ordering apparel, setting up all the vendors to delivering the product to the customer. There's a lot of pieces kind of in between that. So figuring it out from scratch was just kind of a lot of fun. It was I started from home. We just moved into a warehouse two years ago, so it's been a lot of trial and error. What about the warehouse? Our warehouse is 2,700 square feet. We just moved in there 2,000, yeah, it's two years ago, so 2,021. July, july 1st, was our two year anniversary of it. Congratulations, yeah, it's been super grateful.

Speaker 1:

How many people do you have around your team now? So right now we're kind of building. I have a full-time graphic artist. He's awesome. He's been with me since about 2009. I met him through the running store. He actually still works part-time at the running store. His name's Jonathan. We have a part-time guy who's a full-time first responder. He's actually a fireman at Dulles Airport. I taught him guess about two years ago to run the embroidery machine, and now all three of us have our hand in everything, which I think is the key to building a team. So my goal for 2024 is to add at least one, maybe two more people.

Speaker 2:

What were they be doing?

Speaker 1:

So, hey, hey, the thing's that you don't want to be doing.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean honestly, I kind of believe in the lead by example. I'm a single dad to a 10-year-old boy and he's amazing, and so I'd want to instill in him that don't ask people to do things that you wouldn't do, right. So the people I'm looking to add are going to be. I had an awesome admin. She's an energy healer now, so she started her own business, which is awesome for her, and so July she stepped out of that role, so I'm looking to kind of fill that. And then we actually outsourced our screen printing forever, and five months ago we started screen printing. So I'm going to be looking to fill kind of that role as well.

Speaker 2:

Wow, that's fun. This part right here of your business is the most fun part. I think when I started my business it was the first like three employees. It was you and a few people where everyone's got to be 100% in.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah it's, I don't know. I like the challenge. Our job is not the same every day, while we do the same things that we embroider, we screen print, we heat press, we, whatever it's it's the customers, the all different types of customers that we have, that make the job like fun every day and they challenge us to figure out pieces. I'm not a no person, so when somebody comes to me with something, I try to figure it out, which is kind of the fun challenging every day tasks.

Speaker 2:

So, speaking of customers, how are you currently getting your customers? What does it look like for you?

Speaker 1:

So my goal this year, which I think I've done a pretty good job of, is getting out more to networking. Events Are they local.

Speaker 2:

Most of them are local.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean you know you're probably familiar with the social collectives. That group is amazing. I certainly have tried to get out to as many of those events as possible. This year for their Christmas tea, we're the tea sponsor, so we're donating all the t-shirts for their event this year, but that's one. I mean, that's basically was my goal this year was to just do that. I don't a lot of our business which makes me feel really good is word of mouth. You know I get a lot of a lot of so and so sent me so and so sent me. It makes me feel good because I think that's like the best way to get your business out there is for other people to spread the word for you. So it's kind of awesome to get all those referrals.

Speaker 2:

Something you might already be doing. Just as an idea is, look at all the charity events in our area.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, we do a lot of non-profit stuff. I do believe you know gratitude is an exercise. I certainly try to give back as much as we get. So, a lot of those charities and things we do, we do give what we can.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, I was gonna say not even. Which is great that you're giving back, but just because they're always ordering.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So many you know, oh, like races and all kinds of things.

Speaker 2:

Yeah, they're always ordering different things.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, from Potomac of Rying. You know a lot of our business was races, so we're very familiar with that. Yeah, yeah, I mean I think you know a lot of posting on social media too is huge. So I try to do reels, I try to have fun, I try to be this person all the time. So you know, it's just I like what I do, so I try to showcase that. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 2:

That's awesome In terms of who you are outside of your business. What does that person look like?

Speaker 1:

What's funny. So I actually, like I said, I have a 10 year old, I'm a single dad and so you know he's involved in hockey. So today I have hockey practice that I coach. So I coach 15 10 year olds which is, as you can imagine, it's fun. It is fun, but I love being a dad. So you know, having 15 10 year olds, yeah, it's kind of it's kind of challenging but it's also fun. You know, I think they feed off of your energy, yeah, and so I do that. The past few years actually was Ref and College Hockey, so I was traveling on the weekends all over the East Coast from Philly to, you know, upstate New York. That's been a part of my life since I was young, so I like to be involved in hockey. But, yeah, I'm coaching the house league hockey team, I'm coaching his select light travel hockey team, so that certainly keeps me busy.

Speaker 2:

What makes you want to stay? Cause you're obviously, you've got a 10 year old here and you've got a business. But what makes you want to stay in Northern Virginia?

Speaker 1:

I really like the community. Like I just like the people around. You know, a lot of our customers have become friends of mine and you know I can rely on them for various things and so I feel like I've built a network of people for all different types. But I really like the community. I live down Stone Ridge by South Riding. I lived there from 2013. So I love just that area and everybody kind of has each other's back, like I do think it takes a village to. Whether it's to raise a kid or grow a business, you have to rely on other people to help you out.

Speaker 2:

So yeah, 100%. What do you see your business in the next 10 years?

Speaker 1:

So I did a little research. So you asked this question to other people. I don't really have a 10-year plan I can say over the next couple of years. You know we're in a great warehouse now but as we, I'm trying to keep a lot of what we outsource in-house, so by adding like screen printing. And just this past week and I went up to New Jersey and bought another embroidery machine and so I'd like to get into a bigger place and right now we use, you know, manual so I have to actually physically screen print on the shirts. There are automatic machines. I'd like to grow and kind of get out into a bigger warehouse and bigger machines.

Speaker 2:

What's bigger for you?

Speaker 1:

I won't really put. It's not really about money for me. I think it's.

Speaker 2:

Square space.

Speaker 1:

Square space, oh man.

Speaker 2:

I have a commercial space on China.

Speaker 1:

Oh, oh, oh. I see, I see You're trying to put that on me. How big is that square? It's not that much bigger, it's only like 4,000 square feet.

Speaker 1:

I mean, that's bigger. We got super lucky where we are the people that own the building. As you can see, I got my hair all done up today by Rory oh, that's nice and up. Yeah, rory, he owns Faded Room Studios in Sterling. He's above us in the warehouse and so the warehouse is owned by somebody I've known since 2000. So it's kind of funny how, you know, community comes into play again, yeah, and I think that's where the connections and just being a good person right is that you have people looking out for you, and these people knew I was looking for a space and Rory and I have been getting my hair cut there for God it'd be four years or so and him and I put out in the universe. We're like man, it would be awesome if I was downstairs and just so happened, the space became available, got the hook up on Sterling, yeah, and so I'm grateful where we're at right now, but I certainly see myself expanding into a bigger space.

Speaker 1:

I want to turn off the cameras and see if it's a good, yeah, yeah, yeah, I mean I would, I think double the space would be awesome. I certainly want to grow to be that. I have plans, but this next year for me is just going to be streamlining what we already have set in place and, like I said, I'm thankful that I'm now able to do the screen printing and that stuff. That's been a kind of I don't know if it's been a personal professional goal for about a decade, so I'm just kind of happy with learning that process. That's exciting.

Speaker 2:

Okay, so I want to touch back into marketing, because what I'm hearing is you're doing this is for our audience because I'm trying to learn right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, of course, For all of our guests.

Speaker 2:

So you talked about word of mouth and then specific networking groups that you've seen a lot of success in. Have you started thinking about and then you said social media as well. Have you started thinking about other ways or other things that you've seen, either competitors even if they're in Not in competitors but similar industry, but in different geographical areas of the country that have done that work really well, that you might integrate and play with in 2024?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think back to what you asked about adding people to the team, or is that I'm working in the business right now and I've got to focus more on working, getting out of it and growing the business, and so I've dabbled around with sending out emails and those things email marketing, flyers, sales, that kind of stuff, getting people involved in it but that's something I really want to do more of. It's one of the things. I'm not going to say I don't have time for it, but I just don't. Yeah, I just don't make time to do that right now, and so I would like to do more of that. But as far as I do a lot of I'm big on what works for Somebody might work for you as well, and so I do certainly scout out other things.

Speaker 1:

A lot of our vendors are really good. Our distributors are good at sending emails with success stories of other businesses, and so I do a lot of research on that In our industry. It's kind of odd, I don't. I don't. I do know all the local places around here. I think competition is healthy, so there's a lot of us and, but I do see it they don't market as much like there's not a lot of social media posts and stuff and so. But yeah, I do need to send out more emails.

Speaker 2:

That's something I certainly like you know, something else is there's nobody that outnumbers the amount of real estate agents in our area. So if real estate agents can do it, then any business can do it right. Something that you might want to add into the list to consider is starting your own podcast.

Speaker 1:

I've thought about that. Actually, a man right that referred me to come on here. He's awesome and and I heard your podcast with him and I heard that he did that, which I already kind of knew about. But I've actually wanted to do that because that, especially in our industry, we have a lot of customers that are outside, you know, people don't know right, and some of them have big businesses that nobody knows who the leader is, and so I kind of wanted to take my personality, which is fun, and kind of have them on there, yeah, yeah and and just like ask them kind of outside the box questions, right, and you know what's your favorite drink? What do you do outside of work? And try to get people to know them, because you know that would be fun for people to kind of learn.

Speaker 2:

So I certainly have thought about that again, that would be easy, and it doesn't have to be video if you don't want it to be great you could just do it strictly audio only, if it made it easier for you. Something else is your industry is very focused on like we talked about this already, but relationships. So a lot of times I know when people have asked me it's literally who do you know that does this?

Speaker 1:

I've got a charity thing coming up.

Speaker 2:

I need to order 500 bags that have my logo or whatever.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

And it is it's like okay, well, who is my go-to person? That I'm gonna really think of and that's the person that you're gonna refer over. So, having like, as you're hiring people or if it's part of their position I think this is for all businesses, not just yours, but having networking and relationship building as part of their job you have to go to X amount of events per month would be so beneficial, because it does, at the end of the day, come down to who do you know?

Speaker 1:

You have to feel like you know them. I get, I get funny. I'm laughing because I get text all the time from friends saying who do you know has a limo company? Who do you know that does painting? Who do you know it does roofing? Who do you I saw you what's the name of your podcast.

Speaker 2:

Who do you know?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, yeah, that's well. Yeah, I have a couple of them. I have a couple of names that I've written down.

Speaker 2:

Oh, you're already in that phase of it.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I mean, I think this is what I do at night. Yeah, this is what keeps me up. Is is I try? You know I try to. If you go through our social media, you'll see posts all the time of me with customers, and so You're already doing it?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, so I'm always giving shout outs to our customers because I think that's how everybody grows right, is that? You know? I'm grateful for them, for the opportunity to earn their business, and so, if I can, what does it take to take a picture with somebody and make a post and say you know if you've got this? But I certainly get that. I did do a networking, which is once we did the screen printing. I did a networking event in the warehouse where I had 10 people as part of a networking group that I'm in, come in and I taught them how to screen print shirts. Oh fun, and they had a blast. So so I want to do more of that.

Speaker 2:

I'm very no, it's a fun event around, like, specifically, holiday and, like you know, yep.

Speaker 1:

I already I trust. Well, I want to do I was going to you know, I'm kind of sleeping on it because thankfully we are, we are slammed at the moment and so but you know, that's what I want to do is have a networking event and have people come in and print, like, a Thanksgiving themed shirt, and come in and do a Christmas themed shirt and do a you know a you know a St Pais Day shirt, a Valentine's Day shirt, and cap it so that everybody can come in and be part of the process. I think that's like I said, roy, my barber, he's a. He travels around the country and teaches people how to cut hair, and so I've kind of you know, and he already knows because I've told him, I'm like I'm kind of stealing.

Speaker 1:

Your idea is that, you know, I want people to come in and be a part of what we do, because I love what I do and you're building a community too, yeah, and I think it's just fun to learn something new, right, I had to learn how to do it and now I can top my 10 year old son how to do it. And you know, I'm just unselfish in that way that I want people to come in and be a part of it.

Speaker 1:

You know, something else is graduations homecomings you know how they have all those or around reunions. We do a lot. You know when they do like the Disney world, whatever yeah we've done, we've done.

Speaker 1:

I've done my own Disney shirts. I've done my own Disney shirts for my family. But yeah, we do reunion shirts. It's kind of fun with all of those because you hear all kinds of stories. Yeah, I like to hear the stories about I mean I've done all kinds of things, from cancer, you know, support group type stuff, and some of that stuff is hard to stomach but you know, that's kind of fun. Part of the job is to hear the stories To support it.

Speaker 2:

Now, do you guys do stuff where people can bring in their own products, or no? We do, we have 50 specific canvas bags on there. Like we want to screen print it on these specific canvas bags?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, we do. We have a lot of doctors, dennis, we have a customer right around here on Loop Wellness. They supply their own scrubs. They're kind of specific on the scrub that they would like.

Speaker 2:

We can't get those For most of the time, it sounds like they order everything from you?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, because the majority of what you would want the t-shirts, you know, half zips, hoodies, caps are all things that we can get.

Speaker 2:

And, as an athlete, you like that quality yeah.

Speaker 1:

Yeah yeah. We don't our own brand. We use, you know, tri-blend t-shirts as kind of the. That's what you can buy right now in Banana Republic and H&M and Hollister.

Speaker 2:

That's what I'm thinking, Because I always, I always see those like discounted like Banana Public and like when I get shirts done, I don't get none of that sheet crap Like I want it to feel really good.

Speaker 1:

Excuse me, I'm definitely an apparel snob and you know it's funny because I go into these places, right, and all intention of buying apparel from Banana Republic and I see a v-neck on them. Like I can get this v-neck from my. You know my rep will just give me one, right. So why don't we guys spend 40 bucks and I can just get a free v-neck? And well, that sounds cheap, but that's just kind of the quality is the same.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, the quality is the. Yeah, a lot you know, and that's where I do this a lot. I've taken pictures of apparel and decoration techniques, like in airports you know flying why they?

Speaker 2:

say don't take pictures.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I take, I, I take pictures of everything because I see something that's a cool design. I'm like, oh, you know what, I'm going to save that for later. So I'm, I'm always I guess you could say I'm always working, just always.

Speaker 2:

Can you write that off on?

Speaker 1:

your taxes. Yeah, I wish, I wish. Well, I just had a pretty awesome trip to New York City for a night, so I was able to write that off because that was by an embroidery machine.

Speaker 2:

So there we go. Yeah, that's awesome. Okay, and in terms of like wrapping it up, what specific message would you want to share with the world, the community, that you've really learned over the last so many years being in a business?

Speaker 1:

Yeah, I think, well, this, this for me it's. This past year has been really about working on myself, like personal growth. You know when, when we moved into this warehouse there became insurance and you know, overhead and lease and a lot of things that didn't have, yeah, right, yeah, and, and so those, those kind of stresses started to weigh on me a little bit. And, like I said, you know, I had admin is now energy healer and she, she kind of taught me some things like breathwork and meditation and these kind of things to get my mind right to be able to deal with those stresses.

Speaker 1:

And so whenever I run to a business owner that's struggling you know I talked to them about these things ago what do you do for yourself? Right, Like I know, you go in there 12 hours a day and work hard, but what do you do to get your mind kind of set to go to go into work with a Zen mentality? So this year for me has been about focusing on how I can be a better person, which, in turn, my staff has kind of seen and customers have seen the like man you just like have it together and so I would say anybody that's looking to grow their business you got to. I think you got to start with yourself, but you know, just kind of keep it together. It's a lot of fun, I love what I do, so but stressful at times.

Speaker 2:

I'm glad that you're working on that, because you're 100% right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah.

Speaker 2:

This ain't right. None of this is going to be right.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, it took me a long time. I definitely fought back on the idea of these new things. You know, I wouldn't say it's try. I wouldn't say try something outside your comfort zone, right, because you know this could be outside somebody's comfort zone, but just try something new to push your personal growth a little bit. You know, that's that's. That's what I find this year has been like. My goal is to work on personal growth and, in turn, business has been growing. So I think there's I think that's the universe I agree.

Speaker 2:

Thank you so much for being.

Speaker 1:

Yeah, thanks for having me. I liked it. Thank you very much.

Starting and Growing a Promotional Business
Word-of-Mouth Referrals and Community Involvement
Discussing Marketing Strategies and Networking Opportunities
Personal Growth and Business Success