“NO! Let me see that! HOLY! I WON!” Rodolfo “Rudy” Gaona could not believe it. He had just won a new embroidery machine from SWF by Stitch It International, tears in his eyes. The moment was one to remember (video below). It would jump-start a new era for Rudy Gaona, building a company that could last for his family and continue the essence of the American dream.
Gaona is new to the apparel industry, having started American Republic Apparel Custom T-Shirts in Spring/Summer of 2017 out of Anaheim, California. Before then, he served with the U.S. Army National Guard for 21 years and is now fulfilling his entrepreneurial and fun spirit by starting his apparel business while working part-time at the Disneyland Theme Park. His work in the U.S. military would drive deeper his patriotism and form the name of his company. It was also his fellow veterans that would help expand Gaona’s apparel company and start moving his side business to the forefront.
An emotional Rudy Gaona right as he learned he was the winner of the embroidery machine at the ISS Long Beach 2018 show.
His business idea started through interest in the apparel industry and researching services and products. He settled first on a direct to garment machine, something he deemed his third child, alongside the two sons he has. Gaona then began creating t-shirts for people that he knew. He would ask his friends at the local veteran’s lodge if they needed t-shirts made, and word-of-mouth spread from here. Gaining momentum and more passion for this new venture, Gaona started looking into more apparel services he could eventually add to his shop.
It wasn’t until he saw his friend’s business and the embroidery machine running constantly in the store, when he got his next idea. This showed him that there was a lot of potential work in embroidery and he determined this would be the next service to add. “My timeline for embroidery was going to start in 2019. But now that I’ve won this machine, you guys [Stitch It International] helped me move up my timeline by a lot! It opened the doors for my future and for my family,” Gaona says.
“As a business owner, you wake up and go to bed thinking of work and how to get better. I also look to other businesses and try to learn from their mistakes. I look at printing and embroidery businesses on YouTube and want to grow to that level. I learn from my mistakes, SO you don’t have to do them again. I always have a Plan B. With my military background, I’ve learned you always have to.”
This kind of thinking is what led Gaona on his current path in business, but also fueled the drive to build something wonderful for him and his family to have in the future.
Gaona says, “I want to leave my two boys something [this business], keep it in the family.” To be able to do this, Gaona wants to build the best company he can through thorough industry research and planning year-by-year, adding on to his business strategy.
“I’m thinking three years from now, six years, long-term, with services to offer. 2018 is getting up from the crawling stage and next, to the walking stage. Then, power walk for the rest of the year. Marketing, advertising, getting my name out there for more business. By 2019, I want to ramp up more, purchase more equipment as I need,” he says.
“Winning this machine, instead of one [apparel machine] child, it’s now twins. They are different in ways, but really they are my two [extra] kids. I am very very grateful to the company [Stitch It International]. It is family owned [like my own business will be]. The two businesses are alike. I look at Stitch It now and love the family. It’s something I want for my own children, making it a family matter. I didn’t just win a machine, I gained a business family. This is a good luck machine. I will never sell it.” It’ll stay a part of his family, a Gaona legacy that will keep growing.
Video of the Winning Moment: