Diary of a T-Shirt Intern: Bo Experiences Portland!

Diary of a T-Shirt Intern is a weekly column written by Bo, a T-Shirt blogger at Loving This Tee who is also affectionately known in the tee community as dunz0. Bo will be tracking her experiences as an intern at Tilteed and sharing her thoughts on the strange land that is Portland, Oregon!

Hey, cotygonzales.com readers! Some of you may know me, but chances are that most of you don’t, so let me begin with a brief introduction about myself. My name is Bo, but I’m also known as dunz0, the blogger at Loving This Tee, and b2.0 at I Am The Trend. I hail from the DC Metro Area, I recently graduated from The College of William and Mary with a degree in Psychology, I have a strong love for slushy drinks, and I have joint custody of a purple Betta fish named Gilly.

To be completely honest, I never imagined being a part of the t-shirt industry when I started out blogging at Loving This Tee. I always thought that I would only be able to stand on the sidelines and admire companies and their designs. Boy, was I wrong! Earlier this year, I was asked to be a curator at Tilteed, an offer that I couldn’t refuse. When I thought that that would be my greatest accomplishment in the t-shirt world, I was asked to fly across the country to Portland, OR to intern at Tilteed. Three weeks after graduation, that’s exactly what I did. So this is where my journey begins. I’ll be sharing with you some of my weekly activities, as well as some of my experiences outside of the print shop.

I’ve only been in Portland working at Tilteed for about a week and a half, but I’m already learning so much and having a lot of fun in the process. In my brief time in the shop, I have learned about all the steps needed for preparing screens for printing, fulfilling orders, and general website upkeep. I have already gotten a chance to try screen printing, and the first shirt that I ever printed was a Tilteed Limited design by Recycledwax called “Jackalope.” Since then, I have printed a couple of other shirts and am hoping that I get many more opportunities to develop my skills. I have a greater appreciation for the whole process now that I know all the steps that go into it.

Bo Screen Printing

Bo Screen Printing

Bo Screen Printed T-Shirt

Strangely enough, I have also found a real enjoyment in fulfilling orders. This part sounds boring, but it’s actually not bad! What’s awesome is that we keep two large maps in the office for pinning where our orders get shipped to. Although it takes me forever to locate towns and cities (I’m horrible with geography), it’s a fun part of packing orders. I hope to see a map completely covered with pins someday!

One of the main lessons that I’ve learned thus far is to treat every aspect of my work with the utmost care. From setting up screens, to printing, to packaging orders, the whole process is even more meaningful when you put in your best efforts throughout each step. There’s no concept of cutting corners here. Since I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, I love this mindset.

T-shirts aside, I’m enjoying being on the West Coast for the first time. It has been cloudy/rainy most of the time, but I do enjoy the fact that Portland weather is not anything like Virginia weather at this time of year. It has been hoody weather here, unlike the hot and humid summer days back at home. I love walking around when it feels this great outside. As a Tilteed outing, I got to go to this amazing donut shop downtown called Voodoo Doughnut. There were some amazing selections on the menu, and I had a hard time picking a pair of donuts. I ended up getting a Voodoo Doll and a Captain My Captain donut. Talk about tasty! I hope to go back again multiple times before I leave this beautiful city.

Bo at VooDoo Donuts

Bo at VooDoo Donuts

So, that’s my recap of my first 10 days interning at Tilteed. I’ll be doing a new write-up on a weekly basis, so keep your eyes peeled for an inside scoop on working at a t-shirt company. I hope that you have enjoyed reading my account and flipping through the photos! If there’s anything in particular that you would like for me to touch on, I’ll be happy to take your suggestions.

Please check out Tilteed if you aren’t familiar with our site. We feature a new design every 72 hours (curated pieces and a monthly contest winner), so you’ll be sure to come across something to your liking!

Be sure to check out the latest curated tee by Bo at Tilteed. The shirt is called Age of Innovation and is on sale now for $12 but you can save $2 by using the coupon code “TILTCOTY” at checkout!

ageinno

ageinno-deatail

I’m An English Major

No, not me silly. But for those of you who did major in English this tee might be of interest. I found it after I stumbled across this Math Major T-Shirt on Tumblr (follow me on Tumblr). After I realized the Math Major shirt was a Zazzle tee I decided to hunt for a much more credible shirt with similar relevance. And that’s when I found the I’m An English Major, You Do The Math tee from Mental Floss. This dark blue tee will make for the perfect gift for any aspiring English major – throw in a notepad and pen and they’ll be set for next semester! The shirt is priced at $17.97 and features the Mental Floss logo on the sleeve.

How many of you reading this are English Majors?

I'm An English Major

T-Shirts Are Keepers: How Many Do You Hold On To?

Do people become so attached to certain T-Shirts that the thought of tossing them is not even thinkable? According to a survey that was done by tee company Blue Cotton, 4 out of 5 Americans hold on to a sentimental t-shirt. And I don’t doubt that, I’ve got tons of tees in my closet that are years old, from high school even, that I can’t bear to let go of.

Out of 1000 of those that were surveyed, 47% of held on to a vacation tee, 30% kept hold of a business tee from a past employer and 27% did not want to let go of an old concert tee.

“A glimpse into someone’s t-shirt drawer is like a stroll through his or her past,” said Mike Coffey, CEO of BlueCotton and still owner of all-time favorite orange short-sleeve Hanes Beefy-T, with navy and white BlueCotton oval-shaped logo. “A Little League championship, a first concert, a family vacation, a cherished alma mater, your own business – every person’s list is like a snapshot of their personality. And if someone hasn’t kept any old shirts, that can be telling, too. T-shirts may seem casual, but their appeal is anything but. When they’re linked to a powerful memory, why let them go?”

Definitely check out the press release, they’ve got the full story covered and even dissect the surveys major findings. Click on the image below to see a bar graph showing the different percentages of what tee people decided to keep. Thanks to Rochelle Srigley from Edge Communications for sending me link to the press release. 

outlook

48 percent: A shirt picked up on vacation
30 percent: From a business or employer
27 percent: From a concert
27 percent: From a favorite professional or college sports team
23 percent: From a run/walk to raise money for a favorite charity
18 percent: From one’s alma mater
17 percent: From participating on a sports team
12 percent: From a church event
6 percent: From an election, political party
4 percent: From a fraternity/sorority

10tees – The 10 Best of Everything!

10tees is a great place to find themed collections of tees. They do all the work by thinking of interesting themes (i.e. 10 Star Wars Tees Every Fan Boy Should Have, 10 Funny Tees About Strange Creatures, etc.) and then collect and post on their blog the 10 best shirts from a mix of indie and popular brands. It’s fun to see which shirts make the list and its a great way to find random tees that you would not have know about otherwise! 

Be sure to also check out and subscribe to their RSS Feed, a secret birdie told me that you can find some goodies in there, like handy dandy coupons! And if you’re like me, always looking for people to add on Twitter, then go ahead and follow 10tees on Twitter to stay up-to-date on everything 10tees.

5 Things We Can Learn From The Threadless Story

Threadless was started by two guys that decided to invest in the prize money they won from an online contest. They created a business that allowed its community of diehard followers to create, hype and decide what products get made. There are a lot of things that indie brands can learn from the Threadless model, here, I present five things we can learn from the Threadless story. 

1. You Can Build A Business With Minimal Startup Funds. Threadless Co-Founders, Jake Nickell and Jacob DeHart started Threadless using the $1000 prize money won from another online design contest. If you have extra cash lying around, invest in it wisely, Jake and Jacob did and now they run a multi-million dollar business whose model is built on handing out cash to design winners. The point is, in the grand scheme of things, you don’t need large sums of money to start a business. If you are driven and you  have a solid idea then you will be successful – in one way or another. 

2. Community Can Drive A Business. The Threadless model is entirely built around it’s community of dedicated users. People submit designs and people vote. All the while, free hype and publicity for these designs are generated by the community itself. Threadless is a self-sustaining business, unlike old-school fashions brands like Levi’s, Guess and Quicksilver, that spend millions of dollars in marketing and print ads to generate hype, Threadless let’s it’s community take care of that for them.

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3. Make It Fun and Stick With It. Everything about Threadless screams fun. From the designs they select to the layout of the website. The point here is, if you have a theme to your business, push that theme hard and follow through. Even though the ongoing design contest is a constant, they still have smaller “theme” contests, like the current Threadless Loves Travel contest. Their product shots keep with the fun theme as do the weekly videocast. If your brand has a theme, stick to it ad push it hard. 

4. The Appeal of Limited Edition is Hard to Resist. Whenever things have the “Limited Edition” moniker slapped on it, people buy it up. I think that having a design available for purchase on a limited basis and then marketing it as such was a brilliant move by Threadless. “Limited Edition” provides a sense of urgency whenever a potential customer is deciding whether or not they should buy a tee and instills the idea of “I should buy it now or else it won’t be available next time I visit.” I’m surprised that there aren’t many indie tee designers that market their tees as being a limited prints when in fact they are, especially when they print just 50 or 100 of a particular design. I think independent designers should take advantage of the “Limited Edition” moniker. If you do, let me know if people start to buy your stuff up. 

5. The Physical and Online Worlds Can Mesh. Threadless was able to build a physical store from the success of its online store. Johnny Cupcakes did the same thing. The physical and online worlds can mesh if there is value in both. The online community is the strong point of the online Threadless store. The physical Threadless store is able to incorporate things that they otherwise would not be able to do on the online store, for instance, the Threadless Art Gallery. Building and maintaining an online store is relatively cheap compared to opening and managing a physical store. A physical store might not always be necessary, but, if your brand can grow and if there is added value to the physical store than it might be something to consider.

Was this article helpful? Let me know. Have your incorporated in Threadless techniques into your own business model? If so, how? 

Indie Tee Spotlight: Never In Wonderland (NIWL)

This is the sixth edition of the Indie Tee Spotlight and this week I highlight Daren Girdner and his brand Never In Wonderland Clothing, or, as it is often referred to, NIWL.

Daren started NIWL in July 2007 with the help of his girlfriend, Kassie. Since then, NIWL has been a team effort between both Daren and Kassie with the both of them sharing promotion, packaging and selling duties. I was fortunate to have a word with Daren and we talked a bit about how he runs NIWL, the secret behind the NIWL name, that Johnny Cupcakes incident and how he has used the Internet to market his brand. 

Coty: You started NIWL just a little over a year ago (July 2007) “for fun”, what has the experience been like for you since turning your fun idea into an actual business?

Daren: It’s been really fun! It’s amazing to see how well the reactions are from all these kids who enjoy what my girlfriend, Kassie, and I are doing. NIWL is like our baby, we watched it start out from just a few ideas, and now we are watching it grow.

Coty: The first tee you produced for sale was “Hungry for Cupcakes”, you no longer have that one available for sale on your website. What did that tee look like?

Daren: That tee was printed on American Apparel, and it featured only a 12 inch print, with a little zombie monster holding cupcakes. After we released it, we sold a few, and Johnny Cupcakes and his designers sent us threatening messages, saying we ripped him off, and that we must take it down. At the time I designed that shirt and got it printed, I had no idea who Johnny Cupcakes was, or what he was about. After selling all those shirts, we decided to never print anything with cupcakes on it again. We respect and love what Johnny is doing, we had no intention of copying him! But you live and you learn.

Coty: Your brand name, Never In Wonderland, is an interesting choice. What does it mean and how did you come up with it?

Daren: Honestly, there is no real story about where Never In Wonderland came from. After brainstorming some ideas, I just came up with that name. People think that since Kassie and I don’t use drugs, Never In Wonderland was meant as an anti-drug reference, which is not what our company is about at all. We do what we like, and you do what you like.

Coty: You run your own business and yet you just graduated from high school a few months ago. Other than running NIWL, what else are you up to? Have you followed through with your plans of majoring in photography? If not, what other things are you up to?

Daren: Currently, I am just working on NIWL. Next semester I plan on going to college for photography, but I’m not sure where yet.

Coty: Many indie brands hire artists to design tees for their brand. Do you design the NIWL artwork yourself or do you hire artist to do the drawing for you?

Daren: In the beginning of NIWL, I used to design the stuff myself but after awhile I felt that I would be better off hiring artists.

Coty: There are a ton of quality indie tee brands out there at the moment, which are some of you favorites? Was there any particular brand that inspired you when you first started out?

Daren: Right now I am currently into 410BC. I really enjoy what they are doing, and they have a little bit of something for everyone. I believe that they are going to go a long way if they keep at it.

As for inspiring brands that helped me start there really aren’t any. I mean, when I was growing up my uncles and aunts were all silk screening their own shirts and trying to sell them over the Internet. So I guess I just picked up from that and did my own thing with it. I’ve never really looked up to any brands because I was way to busy looking up to bands like Blink-182. I never figured I would be selling shirts over the Internet. But I love it and seems like a lot of kids are enjoying what we do so that makes it even better. If I had to pick one brand that I look up to currently I would say Johnny Cupcakes.

Coty: One of the most important things for new brands is to get exposure. What are some of the things that NIWL is doing to get the NIWL brand noticed? How have you used the Internet to maximize your brand exposure?

Daren: Well so far we have only used the Internet for exposure. We haven’t sold at any shows or things of that nature. But it seems like the Internet has been getting the job done for us. As corny as it is we just have a MySpace account that kids see and they check out our website and if they dig it hopefully they buy a shirt, and if they don’t then they move on. It is as simple as that. But don’t get us wrong we would love to sell at shows and things like that. We just haven’t had the chance to yet.

Coty: Finally, you’ve mentioned on your blog that your goal would be to open up a NIWL boutique. Running a physical store takes a lot of dedication and hard work. In an ideal world, what would be your time frame for accomplishing this goal? What other goals do you currently have for NIWL?

Daren: Depending on how things go with NIWL we hope to get our own store 2-3 years from now. Man, we have so many goals that we would like to accomplish it just takes time. When we first started out one of our goals was to get cut and sew t-shirts made, and we did it. We want to get into a lot more cut and sew things such as sweaters, denim, etc.

*I’d like to thank Daren for allowing me to interview him and also his patience in waiting for me to get the interview questions to him! I’d like to wish both Daren and Kassie the best with NIWL and that in the near future I can shop in a NIWL boutique!

Be sure to check out the NIWL site to buy some awesome NIWL gear and also visit the NIWL MySpace to upload pictures of you in NIWL gear!

CollisionTheory Wins Design By Humans Contest!

Congratulations to CollisionTheory for winning the huge $10,000 Design By Humans T-shirt design contest! CollisionTheory’s Black Hole Sun edged out BRCollective’s Altitude Sickness tee to win the coveted prize. 

“Inspired by solar eclipses and my continuous fascination with all things cosmic. Credit goes to Chris Cornell for the shirt title. =) This will go well with my Electric Sky shirt. Hope you like it.” – CollisionTheory

CollisionTheory did leave a post on the Emptees boards after someone posted a congratulatory thread. Here’s what he said:

 

“Wow! This is the best thing to wake up to. It’s a little disappointing that they didn’t print the original colorway I designed though.

Anyway, I’m honored to have competed against the best. It reaffirms my belief that my less drawn, abstract style can go well against the top illustrators in the game .After all, art should be diverse and dynamic so I’m bringing my own style and vision to the table no matter what other people say.

To Jimiyo, even in competition, you have been supportive and pushed me to promote the design the best way I could. I owe you a beer my friend.

And lastly, to emptees, had it not been for this site, I would not have matured into the artist I am today. And winning in any tshirt competition would have been farthest from my mind. So I hope this serves as an inspiration to every guy and gal starting out.

So there just had to say that. Now go buy my shirt you foolz!” – CollisionTheory

Indie Tee Spotlight: Rethink Clothing

Welcome to this weeks Indie Tee Spotlight! This week I feature Rethink Clothing and its founder, Andy Meyer. Rethink Clothing is a unique clothing brand with a unique target audience and unique designer base. I was fortunate to have been able to have a word with Rethink’s Andy Meyer to discuss his brand, his designs and the future of Rethink Clothing. 

Coty: Rethink is unlike any other clothing company out there. Your clothing company has adopted a different approach when it comes to choosing designers. Explain this premise to me.

Andy Meyer: At Rethink I am really trying to switch up how things are done design wise. The unique thing is that I chose only college enrolled artists. Now, I am willing to admit I have had one designer who wasn’t in college. You may think, doesn’t this ruin your core premise? Not really, Grant is a high school kid, who has become a friend of mine through Emptees. While he isn’t in college you will be happy to know my money went to buying his parking pass for school and towards his car so he can get to college.

Coty: As graduate student myself, I know the college students are a feisty and particular bunch with a lot of punch. What attracted you to choosing college students as your designers?

Andy Meyer: Actually in my working I have encountered little feistiness and more welcoming arms. I see Rethink as a way for designers to have a great outlet for their talent and great start to a portfolio. Also, any college student who is looking for an actual worthwhile project other than some B.S fake sign for a fictional donut shop. More than that though is the fact that each designer brings some different background, edge, style, talent, and attitude. I think this all leads to a stronger brand with mucho appeal.

Coty: You mentioned in the past that Rethink is run solely by you. Is this still the case? What advice do you have to for intrepid youngsters wanting to start their own line of tees?

Andy Meyer: Rethink is still only staffed by me. Now this isnt really the case, I have a solid support network of friends who help me make decisions, balance books and promote. 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 wouldn’t hurt either.

Coty: You’re about to release some new tee designs to your online store, talk to us a little bit about these designs. How do each of these new designs reflect the Rethink Brand?

Andy Meyer: Yes sir. Well I have only one more new design coming out and new scheme of the super soaker shirt. The shirt by Andrew Olivier is awesome. He is a college freshman from Canada and an awesome artist. His style is something new for rethink, but the theme is something I love. On the shirt you can see a city on a shelf which is falling and there are people parachuting out of the buildings. This is Rethink at its heart – something airy, fun and not what you would expect or find anywhere else. I am starting now to hone my design choosing skills to things that you cant find elsewhere and that have an air of oddity to them, such as a half naked lady on the wing of a space shuttle.

Coty: Aspiring wrestler, Johnny Vinyl, earned sponsorship from Rethink Clothing earlier this year. Any new sponsorship developments?

Andy Meyer: Not for now. Johnny is a wild man though which is awesome, he is quite the college entrepenuer which is what really make me wanna sponsor the guy. Also, It is always nice to know my shirts are being worn by a man flying off the ropes, it brings up my brands street cred. I am always looking to sponsor someone who has a unique edge to them, whether that be an awesome band or a collegiate underwater basket weaving team. Know anyone???

Coty: Shirt.Woot has featured Rethink clothing as side deals twice now. Have you submitted Rethink designs to be a Shirt.Woot tee of the day? How has being featured on Shirt.Woot affected sales at Rethink?

Andy Meyer: Awesome, Awesome, is all I can say about Shirt.Woot and Phil at Woot in general. They have extended to me an amazing oppurtunity that has helped expand me into a fledgling little business. I haven’t submitted anything to Woot on the design side, probably because most of my designs look like I did them while drunk and in MS Paint.

Coty: Finally, for students interested in designing for your company, how would they go about doing this?

Andy Meyer: Really, the way I do it now is by having students send me an email saying they are interested, what style they like to do and a portfolio of some past work. When I see a project that will be awesome for the brand then I will hit them up!

*Thanks to Andy Meyer and Rethink Clothing for taking the time to discuss all the cool things happening at Rethink. Keep up the great work!

9 Barack Obama Tees

The elections are quickly approaching and that means there are tons of presidential propaganda tees floating around. I’ve searched the net and have found 9 Obama tees, most in obvious support of the candidate and one, obviously with an agenda against the candidate. What do you guys think? Have you stumbled upon any Obama tees of interest?

Move On. Cool retro lookin’ Obama tee by the Move On people. 

Obama. Those fingers are pointing at you. It’s up to you to make a choice.

Obama in ’08. This is probably the most controversial of the 9 tees here. Apparently it is being sold in a suburban Atlanta bar and the bar owner claims he is not racist. Yeah, right.

Super Obama. I love this shirt! And what makes this shirt 10x even more awesome is that it’s designed by Alex Ross.

Obama. Lovely vector artwork by Cloxboy at Design by Humans.

B.A. Obama. A-Team Fan?

Terminator. Yeah, he’ll be back. Hopefully for the next 8 years. As president.

Obama is the New Black.

Barack to the Future. If you’re a geek (that’s a good thing) then this is the shirt for you!