So I just got through watching the newest episode of The Totally Rad Show (I’m a huge fan) and I couldn’t help but notice the shirt that Dan Trachtenberg had on. A little Google voodoo-ery and I was able to track down the shirt that sparked my interest. It’s called Product Placement and it was designed by Josh Eacret for Dutch Southern.Â This turned out to be a pretty cool find since Dutch Southern produces excellent T-Shirts that parodies some of my favorite movies.
When I first saw the shirt, I thought it was a rip off of the popular Spoilt shirt from Threadless and designed by Olly Moss. But on closer inspection, I couldn’t figure out any of the movies. It turns out, the individual illustrations are fictional logos/brands from movies, and hence the name, Product Placement. Brilliant! I don’t want to spoil the shirt for those of you that want to try and figure out what logos came from what movies so I won’t mention any of the movies featured on the shirt. Instead, if you’d like to know the entire run down of the products and the movie that they are taken from then definitely check out the product page at Dutch Southern. And while you’re there, you can pick up Product Placement for $19.
Watch Episode 131 of The Totally Rad Show (the one with this shirt) below!
One Brand’s Trash, Another Brand’s Treasure is a guest post written by Blake from You Design It where they offerÂ custom t-shirt printing. He’s a t-shirt fanatic that wants to rid the world of suits, one tee at a time.
How many of you out there have a pulse on your brand?. You know what I’m talking about, you eat, sleep and breathe your brand. If you’re talking, chances are…you’re talking about your apparel line. You know as good as anybody that you have to hustle hard day and night to succeed. T-shirt lines are a dime a dozen and only the cream rises to the top.
In the early stages of your t-shirt line, there is going to be a lot of noise you’ll have to filter through. You’ll have your lovers and haters, your friends and enemies, and plenty of know-it-alls along the way. You’ll be inspired by other brands and repulsed by others. These are all very normal situations and just a standard part of the process.
The next best thing to learning from your OWN mistakes when trying to mature as a brand, is to learn from OTHER’S mistakes before you. With the transparency that the internet now provides, you can follow the successes and failures of the brands you’re trying to emulate. But beware, because it’s a very fine line you’ll have to walk.
Let’s take this full circle and go back to the beginning. Remember the pulse question? This was where we established that you and only you know your brand the best. What works for one brand may not work for another and vice versa. Let me give you an example.
It’s safe to say that both The Hundreds and Johnny Cupcakes have seen enormous success for being different than the norm. They have both danced by the beat of their own drum by maintaining styles that are unlike any other in the retail markets. And although they are extremely different, I stumbled across an instance where they were very much alike.
There was a recent post on The Hundreds blog showing some of the samples that they tried but never put into production. The one that stood out to me the most was the Cobra Kai spoof called “Cool Guys”.
It immediately reminded me of a recent release by Johnny Cupcakes with their own reference to Karate Kid’s Cobra Kai. In the post by The Hundreds, they made it clear that the samples would never go into production. Yet Johnny Cupcakes, no doubt, is reaping big sales with their version of the artwork.
The take-home moral of the story is that one brand’s trash may be another brand’s treasure. The Hundreds knew it wasn’t for them, and Johnny Cupcakes felt it fit like a glove (or maybe I should say oven mitt).
You just have to cut through the noise and go with your gut. At the end of the day, your brand is an extension of you.
The first two 5 Things We Can Learn From… posts featuring Threadless and Johnny Cupcakes proved to be quite popular. This time around I dissect Seibei. Seibei is a one-man brand that was conceptualized and developed by David Murray. Murray is a 26 year old college graduate who majored in Japanese Literature. Lucky for us, he decided to focus on making cool art instead.Â
With such popularity and a cult following, Seibei must have done something right. Here I look at 5 things that we can learn from the Seibei story.
1. Your Website Should Be An Extension of Your Products. You don’t even need to click on the store, or see any of David tees or other products, and you already know what his style and what his goods will look like. His website is an extension of his products. He showcases many of the monsters that he prints on his tees throughout his site. And why not? The colors that he uses on his site reflects the colors often seen on his tees. Why would you have a sophisticated, modern and simplistic site design when your products are all about fun, humor, vibrant colors and monsters! Extend your products through your website design.Â
2. Take “Advantage” of Your Fanbase. In a good way, of course! David takes “advantage” of his fanbase through his Seibei Nation promotion. The Seibei Nation is his version of a street team. A lot of people consider word of mouth the purest form of marketing. Word of mouth is what a street team and esssentially the Seibei Nation is all about. And of course, remember that if they rub your back be sure to return the favor. Every time a Seibei Nation member brings in ten $10 or more sales they get a free Seibei T-Shirt. People LOVE free things so why not take advantage of that. BTW, use coupon code COTY for 10% off your next Seibei order!
3. Be As Transparent As Possible. If your company is a one-man show, and even if it’s not, it may pay off to be as transparent to your audience or customers as possible. David is as transparent as can be on his blog, often posting about things not related to tees but that show off the fun side of his life. David loves to make posts about food, by doing this, maybe he’ll appeal to other food lovers who will then be interested in his tacos and sandwichÂ tees. By being transparent, you make yourself the face of your company. You are living proof that your company exists because of you and your hard work. People are able to relate with you much more when they see a face. When people can relate, they often are more prone to opening their wallets and spending their hard earned cash.Â
4. Make Art and Craft Shows Your Friend. David hits craft and art shows pretty hard. A quick glance at his blog shows that he’s attended a ton of these, including: Craftacular, Boston Bazaar, Renegade, and Stitch Austin. What’s so important about attending craft and art shows? Well, it helps to give you brand exposure in the offline world. Sure you have an online store, but when you attend a craft show, people can actually see your goods, they can touch it and purchase it right then and there. Secondly, attending a craft show will help you to actually see what demographics are interested in and are purchasing your products. This should give you an idea of what you should maybe do for future product releases – build on popular products, build on what your target demographic is interested in.Â
5. Trust Your Gut. When David submitted his Give Us A Kiss design to the Cornelius Hearts Threadless contest, he had high hopes and was quite excited about it. Things didn’t turn out so well for the design. Voters were quick to give it low scores and the submission was prematurely dumped from the voting process. Understandably, David was miffed about this – mainly because he was so enthusiastic about the design. He decided to go with his gut and have the design printed despite it not being seen favorably in the eyes of the tee loving community, Threadless. The shirt that Threadless once abandoned is now a staple of his online store and I don’t doubt that it is one of his top sellers. The ultimate vindication came when Jake Nickell, one of the founders of Threadless, stopped by Seibei’s booth at Renegade Chicago. Nickell loved Give Us A Kiss and even purchased one. Trust your gut. 95% of the time your gut is right, which is totally worth the 5% of the time it is not.Â
Wheww, those are my thought about Seibei – what are yours? Leave them in the comments section!
This evening Eric Terry of Linty Fresh hosted his 3rd Linty FreshÂ ustreamÂ chat. He had a special guest this time around, VincentÂ Maglione. Eric, as usual, answered questions regarding Linty Fresh and Vincent was there to talk about search engine optimization (SEO), web design and coding. Here are my notes from the show for those of you that would rather read then watch. A ton of questions were asked so click on to read them all!
In this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight I highlight an indie brand, Prestigious Clothing, from West Springfield, Massachusetts. I had the opportunity to chat a little with William Matte, Jr., the founder of Prestigious Clothing. William has been running his own line for some time now and has built up an impressive catalog of tees within the past year. He has definitely focused on branding and has made his brands name a focal point of many of his tees.Â
Prestigious Clothing is gearing up to release a brand new fall line of tees which William has been promoting heavily and which has got the tee community excited. William talks a little about his upcoming line, some of his thoughts behind the Prestigious brand, as well as how music has influenced his design style!
“The identity, personality and collective attributes of my brand are nothing short of what time, frugality, devotion and hard work can produce. Prestigious means the world to me.” William Matte, Jr.Â
Coty: The name Prestigious Clothing sounds pretty grand – how did youÂ come up with it and what does Prestigious mean to you? How would youÂ describe the identity of Prestigious Clothing?
William: Prestigious is more of a description than a name. The primary reason for the choice was the overall timing of my brand’s inception coupled with the limitless path it produced ahead of me. The opportunity for me to start a line of my own was almost like a dream come true. So many amazing artists and the brands they own/design for inspired feelings of hope and willingness to start something of my own. I was busy as it was- school, my old job, my relationships and related commitments- “Prestigious” was an escape and an outlet. It’s become such a huge part of my life, and I devote every resource I can possibly tap into this project. It’s such an amazing and beautiful thing to be at the helm of a boundless and opportunistic endeavor. The identity, personality and collective attributes of my brand are nothing short of what time, frugality, devotion and hard work can produce. Prestigious means the world to me.
2. How would you define the target audience of Prestigious Clothing?
William: The target audience of my brand is something that I recently discovered, as typical as that sounds from a company owner’s point of view; it takes some time to figure out who you want to market to and why on earth they’d want to spend money your product. My target audience is not one that can be pigeon holed or summed up in a nutshell, but overall my customers are members of what one could simply call an “indie” culture- I promote my Vegan ethics openly and my customers appreciate that. The integration of my growth as the owner of a young brand along with the happenings of my brand’s development substantiate the reality that fans, followers and otherwise potential customers like an involved and personable owner; a face to go with a name. This year, Prestigious will take on more of an activist feel in terms of charitable contribution and communal involvement, setting the stage for what will come.
Coty: The indie T-Shirt scene is increasingly becoming a crowded space. What are you doing to make sure Prestigious stands out amongst the crowd? What things have you done differently?
William: It is far too easy to fall into the anonymous void of a crowed or oversaturated market. The most important aspect of staying afloat is maintaining and preaching the mission of your brand. Customer service, unique and gracious offerings with every packed order, a personable experience that will last longer than the shirt material itself; these are a few things that brands should strive for. In terms of product identity, it’s been said time and time again- offer something that can’t be found anywhere else. This is one of the hardest things to do- offering new products that aren’t like any other line requires discovering who you’re marketing your product to in the first place; once you’ve done this, start planning on ways of supplying the demand that is out there.
Coty: You’re preparing to release a new line of tees. What about the new line has got you excited? Did you collaborate with any artists on any of the designs? When should we expect to see the new line and why are they not available for presale?
William: Ah yes, the long awaited early February release! This has got me extremely excited and anxious at the same time. This will be a three-design release, and it is largely significant because it marks the first “line” ever released by Prestigious- prior to now, new designs would come out one at a time, sporadically and without notice. This has been promoted and has the community excited and wanting to see what’s coming- but only a handful of people very close to me have seen it- myself and the designer/printer included. Jimmy Heartcore, of Heartcore Clothing and printmytees.com fame, designed this line and will be performing the printing of each piece. This line will be for sale in bundle and individual design form (the bundle, or course, will provide substantial savings). By the 10th of February, this design will be unveiled in full form, all for sale and ready to ship. I decided against a preorder for a number of reasons, one of which was that I did not want to sneak peak the line publicly until the day of the release- it is somewhat of an experiment since I’ve done preorders in the past. I want to see how this line takes to everyone since after ordering; each customer will actually have his or her merchandise within 3 business days in hand. Preorders are not history for Prestigious, but this line will not be available for preorder sale whatsoever.
Eric did a great job with his second Linty Fresh live show! There were about 40-50 viewers watching the live feed the entire time which is a great turn out. For those of you who missed the show and want to watch it check out the embed above. I’ve also provided a transcript of the show below, for those of you who rather not watch the full 2 hours, or just missed a few questions, or just like text better. Thanks again, Eric!
The following Q&A was taken from the Linty Fresh Live Show #2. I had to type really fast so they are not direct quotes. But it’s as close as I could get. Enjoy with tea and a comfy tee!
Is it a good idea to use models for product shots or not?
Difficult to use models every month so very hectic. Can be flexible, time wise, if you don’t use models. More professional to use models and people may be more likely to purchase your product.
What do you use for your newsletters?
I use campaignmonitor.com to keep people in touch. Don’t over do it or it will be ignored like SPAM.
Do you change your style when doing commission work?
Yes, like to keep the LINTY FRESH style for LINTY FRESH.
How do I define LINTY FRESH’s target demographic?
Online: Guys 15 to mid to late 30′s. In person I sell more to the ladies, between tweens and 30′s. Girls less likely to buy things online vs. guys. Hipster scene if I needed to classify it, though a lot of people enjoy it.
And to no surprise, the author of the article runs his own line of tees, The Elegant Scoundrel. He has put together an excellent 1st series of tees that jive well together. You can find his full line of tees at his online store.Â
“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail. Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique…”
2. Don’t Force Your Name.
“You know the main reason it is so hard for tee shirt companies to actually make it big? Because EVERYONE is doing it. Literally, hundreds if not thousands of companies, organizations, and individuals each year make an attempt to create Tees that sell. Most fail.Â Why you ask? Because the market is flooded with companies that do the EXACT SAME THING. So how do you succeed in an industry that is flooded with the same thing? Differentiate yourself from the masses, by being unique.”
3. Don’t Unveil your company too early.
“Speaking from personal experience, hold off announcing your presence to the world before you really have anything to show. As tempting as it may be to tell everyone and anyone who will listen that you are now the Supreme Overlord of the Illustrious (INSERT COMPANY NAME HERE), hold off until you have a solid collection of things to keep the public’s attention…”
4. Be passionate about your work.
“If you have a true passion about what you are doing, and where you plan to go, that will be evident to those around you. But don’t just focus on the shirts themselves. Find other nuances of the industry that fascinate and inspire you, and learn as much about those topics as possible. Knowing about the inner workings of the biz and how things are made and presented will not only give you a clearer understanding of the industry you wish to be in, but will also give you things to keep you motivated and keep you inspired when your plain sick of seeing .PSD save files and the same graphic you have been staring at on your monitor for the last week straight…”
I have had the opportunity to work with 11 great indie tee brands over the last 4 months for the Indie Tee Spotlight feature here. There have been so many helpful tips that have come from these features and interviews. So in lieu of this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight (it’ll be back next week!) I thought it would be a great idea to put together a list of 10 tips from the last 10 Indie Tee Spotlights (unfortunately I am excluding our first spotlight, Linty Fresh, because I didn’t get to interview Eric Terry – maybe we can work with him in the future)!
Enjoy with tea and a comfy t-shirt!
1. Don’t Get Lost in The Shuffle, Be Unique. “I think the most important thing is to be unique. The last thing anyone wants to do is get lost in the shuffle. Very cliche but practice makes perfect, no oneâ€™s a hit overnight.” -Stephen Thompson of Pyknik Clothing
2. Sacrifice For Longtime Accomplishments. “You have to be willing to sacrifice for longterm accomplishments, and be willing to lose, over and over again.” -Jimiyo
3. Do Your Research Before You Start Your Brand. “Advice to all your entrepenureal readers, have your ducks in a row before you start. This was kind of a joke and reaction to some hilarious decisons while at a party and I started something with little knowledge or idea of what I wanted. So make sure you have your mind right. Also gobs of money and gorgeous women to model wouldnâ€™t hurt either.” -Andy Meyer of Rethink Clothing
4. Be Passionate and Work Like You Have Something To Prove. “When you love what you do and are passionate about something, thereâ€™s nothing that can stop you, especially from your dreams and goals.Â I think sometimes your best work comes from when youâ€™re the most down. Like you have something to prove.” Kyle Crawford of Electric Zombie
5. Goals and Accomplishments Take Time To Accomplish. “Man, we have so many goals that we would like to accomplish it just takes time.” -Daren Girdner of Never In Wonderland
How does this sound for an idea: wear a different shirt every day for a year and have people pay you to do it.
That’s exactly what Jason Sadler is doing at I Wear Your Shirt. The concept is very simple, you buy a day that you would like your tee to be worn, you ship the tee out and it’s gets worn by Jason and marketed on his blog, YouTube, Ustream, Flickr and Twitter. The hope is that for a day, your tee will go “viral” and thus putting your brand or company in the spotlight for 24 hours.
I personally think that this is a great idea and even wish I had thought of it! But will people be intrigued long enough to follow Jason for an entire year?Â
“Days are sold at “face value” so January 1 is $1 and December 31 is $365.”Â Jason has already sold out of tee days up to March 2009. That means that the starting day price is at $90+. Someone has even bought the last day of the year, December 31, 2009 for, you guessed it, $365. If you do the math, and if Jason sells out every day in 2009 then he stands to make over $60,000!
Does the price tag warrent the rising day costs? Potentially. Especially if Jason becomes an Internet celebrity and is paraded all over old media (i.e. News stations, radio and magazines).
I would definitely say that if your company has some “change” to spend then this might be an interesting way to market your product. But for the rest of you, you might be better off spending 30 bucks for a months worth of ad time on a good t-shirt blog.
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).Â
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.Â
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.Â
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.Â
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 doÂ (and earn a nice living doing it).