The Teabag Incident

 

Tea-Bag

The act of dipping your testicles into the open mouth of another person. Kind of like dipping a tea bag in and out of a cup of water.

I caught the mail man tea bagging my mom. She gagged.

You gotta love McLovin’! And to commemorate this awesome video, I give you three wearable teabag promoting tees! The first teabag tee is from JiNX and is a play on that annoying TV advertisement for HeaOn. 

“This shirt serves as teabagging propaganda, urging gamers everywhere to squat and dip with wreckless abandon. It was inspired by what is possibly the most annoying commercial ever created. If this concept is new to you, simply lie prone, shut your eyes, close your mouth (or hey, keep it open!) and ask your closest male friend to demonstrate the technique.”

The second teabag tee comes from Pocket Rocket Tees, a t-shirt company started by “two drunk college guys.” Both of whom are male. You think they have any tea bagging experience? 

And finally, a teabag tee that looks like it belongs on Threadless, courtesy of The Noobstore! 

5 Things We Can Learn From The Johnny Cupcakes Story

This is the follow up to the 5 Things We Can Learn From The Threadless Story article that I wrote last month. People enjoyed it so I thought I would follow it up with a brand that one of my readers suggested – Johnny Cupcakes!

1. Hustle, It Pays to Sell Things Out of Your Trunk. This is how Johnny Cupcakes made his money initially, by selling tees out of his trunk as he traveled with his band at the time. More importantly, Mr. Cupcakes hustled a heck of a lot so that he could get his tees into as many hands as possible. More importantly, because of his hustle, he created word-of-mouth which caused people to search him out at different shows. The point is, do whatever you can to initially get your brand recognized and you can do this by making it easy for customers in your demographic to get your stuff (for Johnny Cupcakes, this meant selling at the various shows that his customers were attending). 

2. People Like Parody But Like Consistency More. Johnny Cupcakes has made a ton of money poking fun at pop culture. This isn’t new, parody has been around forever. The trick here is that Johnny Cupcakes heavily incorporated its “bakery” theme into his parodies. Everything about the Johnny Cupcakes brand is consistent with the “bakery” theme, from the designs, to the retail store to the outfits that the workers at the retail stores wear, to the website, to the packaging, and on and on. If you have a theme, push the theme 100%. People dig parody, but they appreciate consistency even more. 


3. Stay Away From Chain Stores. Mr. Cupcakes entertained the idea of selling his items wholesale and distributing them to various retail outlets and boutiques. In the end, Johnny Cupcakes decided against this. His argument was that people want what they can’t have and if they are available at every mall then eventually his brand would just become a fad that would fade quickly. Granted, had he gone the distribution route, he would have seen a quick return, however, it could have costed him longevity. So instead, he decided to invest in opening his own, themed, boutique. This worked out pretty well for Mr. Cupcakes. 

4. Extreme Pricing Can Be Enticing. Johnny Cupcakes is able to sell his T-shirts for $35+ because of three reasons: 1) he has built a cult-like following with fans that obsess over his tees, 2) he makes quality products, and 3) he treats these products as limited-edition collectibles (and markets them as such) rather than mass produced goods. Because of those three reasons, extreme pricing, i.e. $35 for a T-shirt, works for him. If you are able to replicate the three stated reasons above with whatever it is you sell, then higher than normal or extreme pricing may work. 

5. Don’t Forget Family and Friends. One of the most important, and probably most loyal, thing that Johnny Cupcakes did was hire close family members like his parents and close friends to work for his company. His mom is noted as handling much of the paperwork involving copyrights and trademarking and his dad is noted as helping him build and construct his first retail store. Not only was he able to keep the brand, “in the family”, but it also allowed people that were close to him to quit their day jobs and actually do something they loved to do (and earn a nice living doing it).

Photos courtesy of johnnycupcakes.com.

Girl Injured From Horse, Get’s Cool Threadless Tee!

I wanted to blog about this a few days ago but got distracted. Anyway, I thought it was a cool story to share as it shows that no matter how huge a company or brand is, showing that you care about the customer can go a long way. 

A few months ago, Threadless forum member, outline, posted a blog in which she said:

Story short, I was breaking in a horse and he threw me into an old fence, and part of the fence post went through my right leg, and shattered my knee cap. it also went clear through the fleshy part under my knee, and until this morning i hadn’t been able to move anything below my knee. But I wiggled my toes! Yay!” 

As I was reviewing the old comments and updates to this initial post, it turned out that she needed a couple of surgeries and have been blogging about it on Threadless for the last two months or so. A couple of days ago, she received an unexpected care package from Threadless that included the Threadless tee, The Sound of Color by The Boy Fitz Hammond, with messages written on it from various Threadless staff. Since they couldn’t make it out to South Africa to sign her cast, they sent her a signed tee instead! How cool is that? Very cool. 

You can find more pictures of the tee on her Flickr page!

Rizzo Tees Opens Up Shop

Rizzo Tees is a new online t-shirt store with a focus on creating and selling funny political tees. Having been open for just a few days, it’s rather impressive that they have an initial 32 different shirts available for sale. The tees cost just under $20 each and are printed on American Apparel. 

I really dug the Rizzo Tees website. I thought it was easy to navigate and the designs are all there for you to see on the front page. They also provide nice and large preview images of each design, but my only complaint is that they do not provide model shots posing with the tees on, nor do they provide close-up images of the actual printed t-shirts. 

If you’re into politically inspired tees, be sure to check out Rizzo Tees, you may find something that sparks your interest. You can use the following coupon to get yourself an additional 20% off your order. Just enter 3JBEE84C at checkout to save cash and get cool tees!

I had the opportunity to chat it up with Chris, owner of Rizzo Tees. As the sole owner Rizzo Tees, Chris sheds light into how he took an idea had back in October 2007 and turned it into an upstart business. It’s a great read for anyone interested in launching their own t-shirt design company. 
 

Coty: How long has Rizzo Tees been in the works? How long have you spent in the planning stages?

Chris: I came up with the Rizzo concept in October 2007. I really thought I was onto something great, so I began planning immediately – dreaming up and designing shirts, hiring a web design firm (twice, ugghh), and researching funny/cool/vintage shirts. I did a ton of research on Snorg, Busted, Threadless, DBH, Sackwear, funny-shirts, screenprinting, and on and on. You name it, I read about it!

Coty: Why did you decide to start Rizzo Tees? What does Rizzo mean? Did you have any previous experience selling tees before?

Chris: I’ve always had a sort of entrepreneurial bug. My grandpa started a window manufacturing company in 1949, and I used to spend time running around his factory as a kid. Running my own business was an idea that was instilled in me from an early age. Problem is, I couldn’t decide what kind of company to start. Either it would be really fun but not a great way to financially support myself, or it would be really lucrative but soul-sucking. With t-shirts, I believe there’s a ton of opportunity out there, and I’ve never had more fun than I have putting this whole thing together. As far as the name, I’ll be honest – the name Rizzo appeared to me in a dream. I literally woke up and said, YES! True story. As I thought more about it, I figured it was better than the standard type of tee company name like Wacky Tees or TeeTime or Eventuali-Tee. There’s probably enough t-shirt companies like that! I have no previous experience selling t-shirts like this – I learned a tremendous amount in the year before my site went live. Now that Rizzo Tees has been up and running for a week, I’ve sold 12 shirts – I’m an old pro at it now!

Coty: I think you’ve done a great job with the site layout. What made you decide to go with a fully custom coded site as compared to using something like Big Cartel? Did you code the site yourself?

Chris: Thank you for the compliment! I am really happy with how the site turned out. Let’s be honest – it’s not the first t-shirt site to look like it does. But there was no reason to break what already works – the site is very straightforward. I like my designs and think others will too, so I’ve designed a site that makes it as easy as possible for you to take these shirts off my hands! No flashing stuff, no embedded movies, no forced account setup – just great shirts. Perhaps I’ll be proven wrong here, but I enjoy shopping from a site that runs smoothly, doesn’t ask me for a ton of info, and that ends up promptly delivering what I ordered. As far as custom coding vs. an off-the-shelf solution, I talked with my web firm, and based on my needs, they didn’t think an off-the-shelf solution would satisfy me. I was pretty particular with what I wanted the site to be able to do, and just didn’t want to live without certain features. I am not a coder, so I hired some folks smarter than me to build the site.

Coty: You opened up shop with an impressive selection of tees, 32 different designs to be exact. Did you design these or did you hire designers?

Chris: I came up with all of the shirt concepts. If the shirt contains actual artistry, i.e. more than just words, I would create a pencil sketch of the design, and then hand it off to several freelance graphic designers. I have a few really talented folks that help me out on that end. As far as 32 designs, I’m glad I was able to afford going up to 32! That number was as low as 8 at one point, then it was 36. Eventually, as I reached the mid-20’s on created designs, I started looking at money and time and settled on 32. I have more designs in the pipeline, and will be bringing those out as soon as I can.

Coty: Most of your tees have some sort of political message. What made you go the political-funny route for your tee designs? How do you come up with the witty one-liners found on the tees?

Chris: My shirts are ones that I would personally wear – most of them are just thoughts that have occurred to me. I know there are some riotous shirts on sites like T-Shirt Hell, and that they sell a ton of ‘em. But I wouldn’t wear 99% of them, as they’re just not my style. So even if I could bring out a highly controversial shirt and sell it, it’s just not me. On the political side, my “Freedom Rock” shirt is a very mild rip on our President and the state of U.S.-Middle East relations. (Of course, if you don’t remember the Freedom Rock commercials on T.V., or are not from the U.S., this shirt won’t make a lick of sense!). My “Do Not Want” shirt is another shirt that I’m proud of (and it’s actually the best selling shirt so far). There’s nothing funny about it. Most of the other shirts are silly or funny, but it’s OK to have a few serious shirts too, and I like how that sets Rizzo Tees apart. I must admit that one shirt that I did not come up with entirely on my own is the 756 shirt, which is of course an homage to baseball’s new home run king. One of my competitors has a similar shirt. It has an asterisk like mine, meant to symbolize the dubious achievement of hitting more home runs than anyone else ever while being totally hopped up on steroids. To make the shirt better, my asterisk is made out of syringes. Bonds is old news now, but I just had to do this shirt.

Coty: Of your current lineup of Rizzo Tees, which are your current favorites and why?

Chris: Tough question, as I am clearly biased! As far as designs go, I like Kama Supra, BILF (Breakfast I’d like to F**k), Barack that Ass Up, SPAM, and Spinners. The Kama Supra one seems to elicit the biggest belly laughs (lol haven’t sold one yet, though). For me, there’s another element to great t-shirts, and that’s the shirt color. I spent alot of time thinking not only about the design, the concept, and the joke, but about how to make the shirts look good too. I tried to pair shirt and dye colors to really have the designs pop off the shirts. I’m a big fan of navy tees, so the “I Support Ribbons” shirt and the “Do it for the Halibut” shirt are two that I love to wear around. A final word on the SPAM shirt – I am unclear as to whether or not your international readers will even know what SPAM is, but here in the U.S., SPAM is a canned, spreadable ham that has a cultish following. So I designed a can of SPAM and then threw a “Nigerian scam” spam email on the front. This was shirt #29 that I finished, and as I am a complete novice at all of this, it was the one design that I said to myself, “I think I came up with an idea that the heaviest hitters of t-shirt design would actually respect.” Perhaps I’m delusional!

Coty: Is Rizzo Tees a one-man-show or do you have a staff that helps you out?

Chris: Rizzo Tees is a one-man operation (don’t tell my wife that). I am the sole owner, and do it all, with the help of a few freelance graphic designers and a screenprinting company. I run everything off my MacBook Pro, and I have four shelves in my finished basement containing over 1,400 shirts, folded and ready to ship. Yes, Rizzo World Headquarters is in my basement. I had a friend that once had a small t-shirt company that told me, “You cannot do this alone – you gotta get a partner.” I didn’t really want a partner, so I asked him why, and he basically said you needed someone there for you to tell you a design sucks – a check-and-balance on your unadulterated ability to print up a batch of 100 crappy shirts! To mitigate this, I go over potential designs with a bunch of friends that basically donate their opinions to me. They may be sick of me by now, but I try not to pummel them with too many, “So what do you think of this design” questions.

Coty: During the process of building a brand and opening an online store, what do you think is the most important thing you’ve learned?

Chris: Two things: 1.) As I cooked up concepts, and then designs, I just kept reminding myself “Not every shirt will appeal to every person.” I think that is key. Some people are really gonna dig my site. Some people, say, a computer programmer, might like one shirt, like the TCP-IP one, and not really care about any of the others. Some people might leave my site scratching their head. And some might blog about its suckiness until they’re blue in the face. All of this is OK and to be expected. My goal is to obviously find the first and second groups of people – if I can find the big fans, plus the niche fans that just want a cat shirt or a St. Patrick’s Day shirt, I think Rizzo Tees will do OK.. ….. . and 2.) Sh*t can and will go wrong. Be ready for the rollercoaster ride, and save up just a little more than you thought you’d need.

Threadless Blank Tee Photos Flickr Group

Here’s a great find for tee designer that I just discovered today. It’s a Flickr group for blank tees that can be used for mock up’s when submitting designs to Threadless. According to the group disclaimer, the images provided can be used by any designer in any way they see fit for any Threadless submission. This means that you can modify the images as you like. However, I could not find any mention as to whether or not it is kosher to use the images for design competitions outside of Threadless (i.e. Design by Humans, Uneetee, etc.). Also, it is posted that if you do use an image and your design is selected and printed by Threadless that you agree to provide a free shirt to the model in the photo (the person who uploaded the photo). 

Last I checked, there are over 700 blank tees available for use. This is definitely a great resource if you submit designs to Threadless regularly and are looking for fresh new models and/or blank tees. The site is maintained by Threadless forums regular, chelly. 

PleaseDressMe TV Launched

Last September I reviewed the then new site, PleaseDressMe so I was automatically interested when I found out on Twitter that the first episode of their new online show was was available. I just wrapped up watching the first episode of PleaseDressMe TV, the show hosted by the Vaynerchuk Brothers, Gary and AJ. I have to say that I did enjoy the first episode, aptly titled as a “beta” by Gary. The show reminded me a lot of the formula used for Wine Library TV. It was shot Gary’s office, which is a familiar setting if you watch the other video’s that Gary posts on his personal site. 

Much like WLTV, PleaseDressMe TV discuses and rates a bunch t-shirts on a 100-point scale. They rated a total of 7 shirts, each coming from a different vendor/brand (i.e. Threadless, Design by Humans). They rate these items based on different factors that are very subjective like design, feel, comfort and color. So it’s interesting to see how they will rate simple t-shirts vs. more complex t-shirts in the future (just because it has 12 colors doesn’t mean it deserves a score of 90+). 

I liked how Gary intertwined some of his business sense into the show, especially when they started talking about personal branding during the Kid Robot segment. The only issue I had with the Kid Robot segment is when they scored the shirt low because of pricing (the shirt cost $50). I think that the review should be based more so on design rather then pricing, just my opinion. 

They did give one bad review on the show, with Gary calling the Collar Free tee Freedom by Rachel Cobb “ugly.” This was interesting to watch, since praise is so commonplace in the t-shirt culture. I’ll be looking forward to more harsh reviews – it’s entertaining. 

Gary and AJ also give away free tee’s on the show, in varying sizes, so that’s great. Also, they have live interaction via Ustream which is awesome in terms of user interactivity and feedback. 

All in all I enjoyed the show. I’ll be watching future interviews and it may have inspired me to do a couple more video posts of my own in the future! Click on to watch the show:

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Say Hello to Threadless’ Mr. September!

The official winners of the Threadless Calendar Contest were announced today and guess what, I’m Mr. September! That’s right, my entry, Connect It USB Head, made it into the Threadless Bloggers Calender! I’m pretty excited. When September rolls around, my headless body will be hanging on many a Threadless fans walls. 

Check out the winners by month:

January is gigguli (2nd Place Winner)

February is jenraskopf (3rd Place Winner)

March is nikolina

April is WarDrobeInSpareOom

May is theczar

June is ytfelmi

July is chengui

August is Goldendust

September is iCoty

October is bhoomika

November is ir0cko (1st Place Winner)

December is angelito

If you’re interested in getting your paws on one of these Threadless Calendars then please feel free to contact ladykay81 at gmail dot com. She organized the contest and will be distributing the calendars to the winners. The cost of the calendars are $15 flat and that includes shipping to anywhere in the US. And also:

If you want, you can replace up to one (1) photo with a photo of your own for your calendar! I won’t do any editing for that, so send me a photo exactly as you’d like it printed, it must be at least 2240 pixels wide and the dimensions must be 11.2 x 8.7. Let me know what month you want your photo to appear in for your calendar (don’t worry, I won’t tell anybody who you’re replacing). 

New Stabb Store Open

Popular Emptees member, RustyEight, has just launched Stabb on Big Cartel. The first two items that are available for Pre-Sale are Robot Decapitation and Shackles. Both tees are going for $18 and have an estimated ship date of either late November or the first week of December.