We had the good fortune of connecting with David Sofro and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi David, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I started my first clothing line called Speed up in 1998 at the age of 24 with my good friend Grant Berentsen, I had no idea what I was getting into. There are so many tasks involved in my 5 fu9ndamentals of business which include
I was working with limited funds and had no idea where to start. We had very little success and I went back to school at FIDM to get my masters in Apparel Manufacturing Management to gain the knowledge that is so necessary to be successful. After graduating in 2003 my ex wife and business partner Mirj Gschwind started DM13. We purchased all the equipment to a run an apparel screen printing shop, which is extremely labor intensive. We did everything from creating artwork, making screens, and production. In the beginning we would work between 12-15 hours a day. We had a loft in the Brewery Arts Colony DTLA and lived upstairs and had all the equipment downstairs. It took us about 3 years to build up a client base which primarily came from referrals.
In the beginning we had no balance and felt like all we did was work on building our brand. I started playing golf at the age of 30 as a hobby and it ended up by having a major impact on the growth of DM13. I would take existing and potential clients to play and a lot of the times I would end up with an order. I chose the question of balance because as an entrepreneur you’re always working on existing and potential orders that can happen anytime form 6 am to 10 pm, and you have to have a quick response time or you will loose the order or make mistakes. Balance is something I’ve had to work really hard at and now I’m 46 and it’s the best it has ever been. I just opened my first retail store for DM13 at 713 South Los Angeles Street, LA, CA 90014 and we’re open Monday thru Saturday, I try to take at least 2 days off a week, but often can’t but now have 2 employees that run the store. Golf has brought balance to my life as I can work and do something I love.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
DM13 has 2 divisions, one is an apparel screen printing, embroidery and promotional products business. We produce company uniforms and a lot of tshirts for schools, sports teams and restaurants. The second is my own line of ready to wear and my store is located at 713 South Los Angeles Street, LA, CA 90014. What sets us apart is we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service, fair price and on time delivery. I’ve been in business for 23 years and it hasn’t been easy at all. Every month is a new challenge to be profitable and be able to pay our bills. We treat every order and customer as they are our most important and give everything we have to make them happy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been Downtown Los Angeles for over 20 years and I’ve loved and been amazed about watching the rebirth of one of the most eclectic cities in the world. I would take my friend to a Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers game. I’d hang in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Venice Beach and my favorite Mexican food restaurant is El Coyote on Beverly Blvd.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to dedicate my success to my late Grandfather David Sofro, late father Barney Sofro, mother Victoria Sofro, business partner and ex wife Mirj Gschwind and my teacher at FIDM Judy Yaras