Sean Kelly started Jersey Champs in May of 2016 as a Freshman at Rutgers University. Using Instagram to connect with influential people, the Jersey Champs Instagram account has grown to over 1 million followers in 3 years. Jersey Champs is now one of the largest manufactures of jerseys in North America. Today we get a chance to ask the founder of the company some questions about how he was able to grow the company and connect with influencers.
Q. Welcome to StartUp Mindset, Sean. For the readers who are not familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself, your company, and your entrepreneurship background?
I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life. It is a simply something I was born with. I used to sell candy and whatever I could get my hands on in elementary school. I was a merchant in online games such as RuneScape and MapleStory. I currently run Jersey Champs full time, which is one of the largest sports jersey companies in the United States.
Q. When you first made the jerseys available for purchase, did sales start coming in right away or did it take some time?
We actually sold our first batch of 100 jerseys in one week! The proof of concept was proven and we scaled from there. We had a decent Instagram following prior to releasing a jersey, which helped us get sales off the bat.
Q. You were able to land some very notable celebrity influencers. Could you name a few that you have been able to connect with and how they have helped your business?
Mark Cuban is probably one of the best influencers we have landed. He gave our brand credibility and trust. 2 Chainz ordered over 500 jerseys for his company and many other rap artists have ordered hundreds of jerseys. We have also worked with Michael Rapaport, Dwayne Wade, Dez Bryant, Odell Beckham Jr, Logic, Khalid, Marcus Peters, Kyrie Irving, Lil Pump, Martavis Bryant, Fabolous, Young M.A, Lil Wayne, Futuristic, Landon Collins, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Jae Crowder, YBN Nahmir, Casey Veggies, Soulja Boy, Supreme Patty, Ugly God, Dave East, Migos, Perez Hilton, Clint Capela of the Houston Rockets, Terrance Williams, Skinny From the 9, Brandon Ingram, DJ Drewski, Victor Oladipo, Karl Anthony Towns, JaVale McGee, Tai Lopez, FATBOY & more.
Q. You’ve used Instagram to really grow your business. What was your main strategy for social media and why do you think things exploded on your Instagram?
When we first started, we used to spend thousands a week on shoutouts from large Instagram pages. Once we grew a large following, we switched over to influencer and celebrity marketing to give the brand more credibility. Instagram is a long term investment and does not bring you sales right away. It took us nearly 3 years to get to 1.1 Million followers.
Q. What’s your process or system for finding the influencers that help you tell your brand’s story?
I have a team of 4 employees now direct messaging influencers and celebrities on Instagram. I used to email managers of music artists which landed us 2 Chainz, Young M.A & YBN Nahmir to order jerseys. Almost all of our influencers are obtained through Instagram. It is a billion dollar market that most companies aren’t taking advantage of.
Q. Were there any tools or apps that you utilized that helped with your marketing or analytics?
Google Analytics tells us some key metrics about our website traffic. Shopify Analytics gives us insightful information as well. We be sure to check both once a month and see what we can do to improve the website. Shopify Apps such as Recart, Wheelio and Mailchimp have gotten our email list to over 400,000 users as well.
Q. What mindset or trait do you think every entrepreneur must possess in order to become successful?
I believe entrepreneurs must be hard working, determined and open to new ideas. You don’t have to be school smart to make it as an entrepreneur. I had a 1.7 GPA in college and did not even