Merchwide Does a Lot More Than Make Your Band's T-Shirts
Merchwide in Orange creates merchandise for some of the biggest names in the industry. They're a one-stop juggernaut in the making that hired a group of music lovers to build brands for national and local acts. Suffice it to say this is not your average merch company.
Heidi Darby Jon Brucher (left) and Casey Sullivan
Merchwide takes pride in the fact that their operation does more than sell t-shirts. They have the resources to design, create, and ship a variety of merch in-house, but it's the hands on approach to reaching the fans that sparks excitement in president Jon Brucher and merchandising manager Casey Sullivan. Brucher's experience in the clothing industry coupled with his history of playing drums in local bands gives him valuable insight into the world of music merchandising. Bringing on Sullivan--lead singer for local prog-reggae rock band Seedless--gives the company further insider credibility. Brucher states that Merchwide's purpose from the beginning was to help bands improve their overall visibility, and given the backgrounds of the staff, the company has an edge.
"We work with people that are alike. Merchwide has a great culture," Brucher says. "Coming to work and seeing results for our clients and for the fans, that's why we connect so well. We even get on the drums and jam once and awhile. We have enough employees who are musicians to start our own band."
Brucher started Merchwide in 2006 after selling his clothing company, and set out to make his mark by resisting traditional business models upheld in the music community. In lieu of advances and confiscating licensing rights, he aspired to create an environment where real world marketing meant working with the band in multiple areas. Orchestrating an approach that served a wider range of needs felt like the only suitable option for the 32-year-old entrepreneur. Everything from merchandising, website construction, and touring fulfillment were addressed, and ecommerce and social media needs were greeted with determination. His vision proved attractive to globally recognized acts like Snoop Dogg, 311, and John Fogerty.
The grassroots approach that Merchwide takes extends beyond their clients, it applies to the employees as well. Sullivan became close with Brucher after hanging out at a Guttermouth concert behind the previous Merchwide building in Santa Ana, and it wasn't long before Sullivan became an official part of the Merchwide family.
Sullivan admits that working for the company is a dually beneficial situation. While his position in Seedless provides perspective, he states that a reciprocation process occurred. Seedless' fan base experienced growth as a result of his work with the company, where he was able to witness first hand the newest market trends and see what peaked interest from a merchandising and marketing standpoint. He happily pays it forward. "I get to do the same for my clients. Reeform, and Katastro are local bands that saw their merchandise and online store connecting their fans to current trends. It brought them more sales than they ever had. That's the goal," says Sullivan. "We're at all the shows, and they have all walked through Merchwide."