I had the pleasure of being offered to do my very own custom t-shirt on Zazzle.com a few weeks ago and I was delighted to oblige. For those of you unaware, Zazzle offers a variety of products from cards, postage, buttons, key-chains, mugs, pillows, napkins, pet tags (etc. etc. etc.). I am honestly unsure how new the Custom T-shirt feature is on Zazzle but they offer screen printing and custom embroidery, no minimums, no set-up fees, 24 hour or less turnaround and t-shirts starting at $14.95.
I’m going to get right down to it. I played around with the custom t-shirt feature for a while on their website. You have the option of uploading your own artwork or photography OR creating your own custom text. You get the choice of a variety of shirts, but not enough variety in my opinion. The styles of blank shirts to choose from are scarce and a bit out-dated. Zazzle has chosen some really basic blanks to work with, which I guess is fine for this additional custom t-shirt option on their website, but t-shirts are tricky. It’s not like selecting a blank mug or key-chain, this is something I’m putting on my body and I’m assuming you’d want me to WANT to wear. That aside, the pricing on the blanks themselves is quite ridiculous. Being a clothing business owner myself and working with screen printing companies and wholesale companies; having years of work experience in the fashion industry, I can say that the pricing on Zazzle’s website for a blank alone starting at $14.95 is way too high. That’s the price on a very basic unisex style t-shirt. Move on over to a bit more trendy woman’s style and it’s already up to $19.95 (without my design even on it yet).
So let’s go to the “Customize It” area of the website after I’ve selected my style and color blank. They’ve made their design area in an easy format so even the least computer savvy can figure it out, which is really nice and user friendly (see above photograph). They give you several views of the shirt on a model and the color options for your shirt style are available at the bottom in case you want to check out how your design looks in a different shade. They even give you the ability to switch styles of t-shirts while designing if perhaps your design just isn’t fitting properly on the one you chose. This is all very nice.
My first attempt at customizing was I wanted to place a small photograph on the front of the shirt and do one word of text on the back. Before I even checked the pricing (Zazzle had given me a $25.00 gift certificate to test this out) I played around with my image and text and couldn’t seem to get my photo to fit or crop right. It appears the sizing area they give you to print on the front is very limited and thus left me with the only option of switching my entire concept because it was stretching and cropping my image weirdly. After that idea failed, I decided maybe I should look at the pricing to make sure before I finish my design that I’m still within the $25.00 mark. Well, color me stupid, adding the additional 1 word of text on the back added $5.00 more to the price. Maybe I forgot to mention I had chosen a simple women’s bella white t-shirt (the only decent option for a girl) and it was $19.95 blank. Let’s do the math people, this brought me to $24.95! Ok, so I’m under $25, right? What about shipping, I thought? Maybe Zazzle comped that for me? Nope.
After a much needed break from frustration I went back and started fresh. Chose a Bella Ladies Fitted Tank in White which was $18.95. Let me interject that Zazzle should really redo their model shots. The photos of the shirts on the models are not accurate at all. The tank I received is extra long, the tank in the photo on the website is very short and boxy looking (nothing like what I received). The product I received is actually very nice quality – but the photo does not show or demonstrate that which is why I was turned off to selecting it in the first place (see image below compared to photo of me wearing it).
I understand that they’ve tried to make the whole custom t-shirt feature area as simple as possible, but as I mentioned the styles aren’t flattering (or at least the photos of the styles aren’t making them look flattering), the color choices are definitely not appealing and you are very limited on where you can place your images or text. If you were looking to have a lot of text, it’s not going to happen unless you want it real small. The area that they allow text to go to, is not any lower then the middle of the shirt. I have to give them props though for having a pretty wide variety of text styles which I had a ball playing around with.
With choosing the tank I placed 1 word of text on the front, now that I knew what I was working with (I still wasn’t happy I had to change my entire order) and then I went to checkout. Lo and behold, another problem. Apparently you cannot use a gift certificate without having an account and logging in (not so user friendly). I did not know this until I contacted Zazzle, asked why it wouldn’t accept my gift certificate and they told me I needed to register for free to create an account (which personally, and I’m sure most of you can agree, I don’t like having to do if I feel it’s going to be a 1 time order). So for a basic white tank with 1 simple word of text on the front plus shipping the cost got me to a couple cents under $25.00. Very costly I’d say, and probably not something I’d be willing to do again unless they lower their pricing.
The truth is the truth though and the product came out superb!! It arrived and it was a quality garment (Bella is top quality for women) and it was the perfect style tank. Again, you wouldn’t know this by looking at the images which isn’t helpful because that is why the images of the models in the tees are there, for you to see how it fits and looks. Well, here’s what mine looks like:
Chief is a nickname my grandfather was given and ironically people I work with started calling me it without having known that. Couldn’t help but make a tee with my “title”!!
Note: The tank is pretty long that the bottom is cut out of the photo. The image of me wearing it, I actually have it scrunched up a little because the tank is a bit see-through.
Zazzle, you definitely had some good qualities about your Custom T-Shirt Feature and some mishaps that I think are easily fixable. Regardless, if you make the customizing and ordering process a little more delightful and easier, your product is already outstanding in the end! Best of luck to you & thank you much for allowing me to take the time to review your website & shirts!!