Imagine a fashion company that does not have either the designers or marketing. Instead, you have a site where your visitors submit proposals for t-shirt printing and spreading the word to others. It is Threadless.
Manolo.se met their Creative Director, Jeffrey Kalmikoff, (pictured) to find out how to successfully sell 80,000 T-shirts a month without designing one yourself.
– The idea is very simple really. An ongoing T-shirt contest online where everyone can compete and vote on equal terms. The winner gets his t-shirt printed and then sold it on the site.
That’s the concept behind the super success of Threadless. The site was started by two guys, Jake Nickel and Jacob DeHart, in January 2000 with a budget of $ 1,000. They worked as a designer at an advertising agency on the day, and took care of the site in the evenings. All T-shirts were sent on their lunch break.
Threadless began to spread like wildfire in design circles and became a forum for all those interested in graphic design. Small designers saw the opportunity to reach through the media noise while they gained valuable criticism of the way. The site was going to be a success.
– There are many who have started on Threadless and then gone on to become successful designers. But the interesting thing is that when they come back to the site again and send in a new press, then they win more often than not. Great designers are lazy and run the routine. It does not work when you are competing against a 15-year-old who has benkoll on every single pressure that come in the last six months.
Any concerns to become outdated feel Jeffrey Kalmikoff not therefore:
– We do not even discuss fashion and trends. It is not needed when the visitors choose what is printed and not. We are much quieter than most other companies in the fashion industry, actually. We’re just doing exactly what our market wants us to do. More right than you can not be.
Today, the some 600 contributions a week which voted 4-6 pieces until pressure. The winner will receive today $ 2000 (a sum that has been increased in line with revenues) and five t-shirts with their own pressure. And they sell between 60-80000 T-shirts a month.
– Our visitors do not perceive us as a company that employs them. We discuss all the changes that are made and are very careful to give back as much as possible all the time. Now we, for example, to test a new kind of T-Shirts, and when we send a sample to the 100 most active buyers on the site to see what they think.
The key words are loyalty and closeness. Everyone who works at Threadless is active on the site and discuss both the T-shirt printing and developing of all visitors daily. A closeness that few companies in the fashion industry may have.
– Nike and similar companies offer the ability to personalize their shoes, which is a first step. But in order to be able to get closer to the visitors they need to break down the organization into his pieces. You have to have few employees and many decision-makers, not vice versa.
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