We built this business on the backs of t-shirts. As Portcon approaches, I'm reminded of the very first convention we ever did back in 2007--it was Portcon's artist alley, the only anime alley we've ever done. We went in armed with hope and optimism, four adorable designs, a handful of products, and a message of happiness and love. Both of us were stuck in soul-sucking jobs at the time and we went in hoping those t-shirts were gonna sell like hotcakes, that it was exactly what the world was missing. Truthfully, while they sold pretty well, they didn't sell fantastically, but we were still under the impression that, as designers and artists, we needed them on the table.
We expanded our operation over the next few months and had more t-shirts made. As a start up business, buying in bulk was expensive, having them made frustrating. I wish someone had intervened, had told me it wasn't necessary to carry them, that there were other things I could make that people would want just as much. But business is nothing if not trial and error, and our model was the poster child for unconventional at the time.
Shirts are a terrible product to carry. Have something in color X, people want the same thing in color Y. Carry unisex sizes, people want form-fitting. Out of size Z, it's the hottest size of the season. They're heavy to haul to cons, require a constant inventory of all sizes, and can be expensive to have printed. And nowadays? People are selling shirts for so cheap online that in order to compete I would need to give them away for free and take a financial hit. For someone like us, whose primary business isn't t-shirts, it's a lot more hassle than it's worth. Factor in how many dozens of designs we have and the possibility of having every single one printed in at least six sizes, and it quickly becomes the stuff of nightmares. For the last seven years, every time someone has told me 'I should carry t-shirts', I smile tightly, but politely. To an outsider, I'm sure it looks simple. As a business owner, no friggin' way.
Enter Teespring.com. Suddenly t-shirts become a lot less scary.
Teespring is a company that prints high quality shirts for you. The shirts are sold through their online platform and shipped directly from them to the individual customers. Their slogan says it all:
"Sell high-quality screen printed tees with zero upfront costs and zero risk. We ship directly to buyers, you keep the profit."
If it sounds easy, that's because it is.
But here's the clincher: We have to sell at least 25 of each design or the t-shirts won't be printed. That means you don't get charged unless we meet our quota. On our end, we make enough for this to be worth doing, but I want to be clear that it's not a huge profit margin. We've elected to give t-shirts another try because we've had so many requests.
So, kits n' kats, this is a test! If we sell enough of these to get printed, we'll continue offering t-shirts through Teespring. If we don't, the shirt idea goes on the back burner for another seven years, or possibly gets taken off the table completely. It's up to you!
Here's what we have so far--just click the picture of the one you'd like to purchase and you'll be taken directly to the page. Each t-shirt campaign is only available for a limited time. There are only a few days left to make the magic happen! ^_^
Come join the celebration of creativity and cute! Available in light blue.
The Buddha offers a gentle reminder of the important things in life--remembering to breathe, being kind to each other, and laughing freely. Available in an array of colors.
Our lovable, adorable nine-tailed fox! Available in a variety of colors!
If this is a success, we'll open our next round of shirt designs up for requests! Vote with your dollar, folks; if you want shirts with Neko-jin Designs unique brand of cute, let us know by purchasing one of these and sharing the love with friends. ^_^
Enjoy your weekend!