Susan Brady – Co-Founder of Team Sports Gift

Always put the customer first. These days everyone is in a rush, but if you take just a moment of your time to make someone feel important the rewards will come back to you.

A native of Newport Beach, California, Susan Brady is a self-taught, online retailer. After attending California State University, Long Beach, Mrs. Brady explored the world of entrepreneurism. She started from the ground up by learning basic website development and marketing strategies then progressing to her first of many online stores.

Susan began selling kids bedding and bedroom décor online in 2005. Susan’s love for sports and people fueled the fire to produce her seconded online store, Team Sports, selling sports memorabilia in 2014.

Team Sports was built on the simple idea of giving every sports fan, man or woman, the opportunity to support and share the pride and spirit of their favorite team. Her company is a family-owned business in a small town in California (yes, there is a thing as a small town in California!). At Team Sports Gift, Mrs. Brady has one objective; to provide the best customer service in the business. We believe that being a small business we can provide the ultimate in customer service. From customers’ purchase decisions to delivery, Mrs. Brady stands by to ensure that each customer has a hassle-free experience.

Where did the idea for Team Sports come from?

I found it frustrating when trying to find sports logo products made with women in mind. Yes, you can find t-shirts, jerseys, and caps, but what about the things that women want to use around the house and on game day? That was when Team Sports was born.

I set out to find party essentials, game day apparel, and home décor with women in mind. That isn’t to say that I forgot about the males out there, I just put the ladies in the forefront of my mind so that Team Sports ends up offering a well-rounded selection of sports accessories for all demographics.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start in the early hours when it’s the quietest around the office. Customer Service is important to me, so I respond to customer emails and social posts, brush-up on what’s happening in sports that week, look for new products that have the quality that I prefer to offer, and update inventory on the website. I like staying in touch with the public, so throughout the day I will contribute to answering customer service phone calls myself, too.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I try to imagine each and every item in my own home. What would I use it for? What will it add to my surroundings? Then I research or develop products based on what I would love. The whole process takes me a few days to absorb the idea and bring it to life. Time, research, creativity and a passion for sports create a fervor for each product that Team Sports carries.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

There are more and more products catering to women these days. Team logo items with a feminine flair such as watches, wallets, purses, serving trays and fashion apparel are popping-up everywhere. Since women-centric products are what inspired Team Sports, it is exciting to see the industry take notice and support female sports enthusiasts.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I find that good business sense comes for gut emotions. If something just doesn’t “feel” right, there’s got to be a reason why. Run with that feeling, look at the problem from all angles and you’ll figure out how to make the situation better. My “hero” ideas are born that way.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

At one time in my life, I was a flight attendant. I truly loved my job until one day a customer who was having a bad day decided to make mine miserable, too. This person ranted about not being able to have their choice of meals; he even trapped me in the galley, screaming at the top of his lungs. It got so bad that other customers came to my rescue.

The beautiful part was that I later got an apology letter. He actually thanked me for having the patience to deal with him. You see, he had just got fired that day and unfortunately, I was lucky enough to be the person he let his frustrations out on. This sounds like a terrible situation, and it was at the time, but I learned many things about people and how to understand where they are coming from, what their needs are. To this day, I still use customer service skills that I learned from being a flight attendant. Patience, understanding, and a strong knowledge of my product are the basis of what Team Sports’ customer service policies are about.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I believe I would put social media before the website development. These days more people are shopping online than ever before. A picture speaks a thousand words!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Always put the customer first. These days everyone is in a rush, but if you take just a moment of your time to make someone feel important the rewards will come back to you.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, giving the best customer service we can is a key strategy that every business should cherish. I frequently hear that our sales representatives have gone above and beyond what is expected of them. We make the customer feel important to us. If that means sending sports to team accessory images so the customer can create a wonderful gift certificate as a gift or calling a supplier to see if an item can be rushed to them so they have their item in a timely manner or doing some research and sending them to another company, so be it. They’ll come back at a later date and remind us that it was because we made them feel special that they wanted to deal with us again.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Our first try at an online presence was a disaster. Huge amounts of money and lots of time were spent to no avail. Most would have thought we wasted our time and money. I disagree. Yes, we spent a frustrating two years trying to develop what we thought was what the customer wanted. With a bit of perseverance and a bit of hindsight, we learned from our mistakes and built our sports team accessories company as it stands today.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I think this world is going paperless quickly. I think that reusable bags with team logos would be a fabulous addition to the sad selection your find in markets and stores today. The one thing I have learned is sports fans are diehard fans.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

On a vacation! I actually treated myself to a Broncos championship game. I was able to observe fans tailgating and in the stands. I also had opportunities the listen to their wants and needs, too. It was then that I knew I was in the right profession.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I love dealing with customers, but to be able to do so I needed help with some of the day to day jobs. I currently use a variety of apps on our website to automate inventory (Stock-Sync), reminder emails (Social Auto-Pilot, Mail Chimp & Persistent Cart), social media posts (Tailwind) and process orders (Shopify). I also use a fabulous Search Engine Optimization company, SEO National, that helps with reaching out to potential customers. Without all this help, I wouldn’t have the time to do what I love and get to know each of my customers.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

John Elway: The Drive of a Champion – I’m a die-hard Denver Broncos fan. The book goes over the development of his career from high school to his final championship game plus his relationship with his father. There is a passage by his father in the book that I love,

“I tell people that my [recruiting] offer to John was $2,000 under the table, a new car and a mortgage on the house,” [says Jack]. “I said I would go so far as to have an affair with his mother. Still, he didn’t go for it….I know that if I had said, ‘John, come with me to San Jose,’ he would’ve come, but that wouldn’t have been fair to him. Still there are nights…when I’ll say to myself, Jack, old boy, you’ve got to be the dumbest sumbitch in this whole world. You had the best quarterback in America sitting across the breakfast table from you and you let him get away.”

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer – This book helped me explore my inner self and what made me tick. He helped me be “true to myself” and do what makes me feel good.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosacki – This book teaches you to adjust your mind set, be open to new ideas and fine-tune your financial intelligence.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

I’m immersed in the world of sports, so I follow all the sports teams and the usual suspects, the NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA, ESPN and CBS Sports. I find that their updates are informative and this helps keep my passion for sports alive.


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