From the category archives:

Interviews


I’ve featured Sugar Steak Apparel before, but like a lot of the brands I post about, I don’t really know much about their back story. Generally, if I like the tees, I’ll post them, I don’t need to know the back story, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to know the back story, and if it comes in the form of a nice interview then it’s even more likely I’ll check it out. Usually interview people send me are a bit lame, especially videos, people tend to not be able to articulate themselves too well, but Kyle Creek, the Sugar Steak founder, is clearly a confident guy and comfortable in front of the camera. Also, these Urban Media chaps seem to have the chops when it comes to producing a decent video that doesn’t have a blocky resolution and video that sounds like it was recorded using a tin can in an empty warehouse.

{ 3 comments }

More news about Mintees

by Andy on February 19, 2011

mintees interview

I reported on the death of Emptees a while back, and also mentioned that the heir to the throne was coming together in the form of Mintees, which has Rob Dobi of Fullbleed attached to it. If you’d like to know more about that project (I know I do) you can check out this interview with Rob over at the freshly redesigned IAMTHETREND.

{ 0 comments }

Yonil Won the DBH 10K!

by Andy on October 14, 2010

yonil design by humans

This is very much old news by now (so old that Coty has already done an interview with Yonil), but as I covered the earlier rounds of the DBH $10,000 competition I thought it would be remiss not to mention the design that picked up the grand prize. What makes Yonil’s win more remarkable is that he had two designs in the top 8, generally you’d expect this to split his vote (since most people presume this stuff to be a popularity contest as much as a design contest), but apparently enough people liked his design to push it over the top. Personally, the shirt isn’t for me, but then again, rarely are Design By Humans tees ‘me’ anymore, I guess I must have moved out of their demographic. Don’t forget that DBH have got a sale on at the moment, so you can make a saving on this design (and just abotu everything else in store), as it is currently $15 instead of $21.

{ 0 comments }

I’ve been interviewed by Tiny Celestial!

by Andy on October 1, 2010

damn Andy, you be lookin' fine!

Just in case you haven’t had quite enough Andy for one week (one more post and then I’m out until Wednesday because I’ll be away on business), you can check out this interview by HYA’s latest sponsor, Tiny Celestial, in which I was asked 5 questions about my favourite subject…. ME! (and t-shirts). It was just 5 questions so there’s no need to put your feet up with a hot mug of cocoa before getting down to having a read, but you might want to check out the other interview in this new feature that TC are going to be running on a semi-regular basis, as it’s with Greg Abbott, the guy that seems to have a magic formula for delivering quality AND quantity when it comes to t-shirt designs.

{ 0 comments }


I haven’t actually watched this video because my internet connection is really, really slow at the moment (this kind of up-down connection is what you get when you’re miles away from the substation), but since it’s been blogged about elsewhere I can only presume that it’s enjoyable viewing. If it whet’s your appetite for more Threadless knowledge, check out my interview with Jake Nickell.

{ 0 comments }

Interview with Seibei

by Andy on May 10, 2010

seibei interview

If you’re a dedicated Seibei stalker like I am, you’ll be well aware that right about now, David Murray is flying over the Pacific on his way to Japan to exhibit at Design Festa. It’s a pretty big move for him, well, for any brand really, so it’s a good thing I got this interview in before Seibei blows up and turns into the next Bape (for people that like tacos and dinosaurs). This is an unusual interview, because usually I’m asking questions to someone who I don’t really know, however, me and David hung out in New York last year, and he was one of the first people to send me a hoodie back in the early days of HYA. Basically, I know David better than most of the tee-ple I’ve met through this site over the past four years, and I think that my questions might reflect that a bit. Enjoy!

So you’re going back to Japan (to exhibit with Seibei) for the first time since being a student in Kyoto, I assume it goes without saying, but this is huge for you, right? How do you think Seibei will go down in the land of the rising sun?

Absolutely! The beginnings of SEIBEI have their roots in my year of study in Japan, so I’ve been wanting to bring it back for some time. Personally and professionally it’s going to be very big for me. I’m thinking it will do well – I actually met a rep for a showroom in Tokyo a couple of years ago who wanted me to show my line there but I just never ended up pulling the trigger due to various concerns, and for years people have been telling me they could see a Japanese influence in my work (which could really mean anything, of course). Also, working shows is all about having a quality product and getting attention at your booth – granted, Tokyo has more than their fair share of white guys, but I think being a foreigner (who can speak Japanese, even) is going to really work for me, for once. I’m actually considering making myself some weird sort of SEIBEI outfit to wear – something akin to a superhero outfit (that will still show my big, weird, Caucasian face, of course).

It’s a big, weird leap, but I’ve been wanting to work Design Festa for some time. I’m fortunate that two of my best friends from my time in Japan will be helping me at my booth and trying to set up meetings with retailers for the two weeks that I’m there. It’s like Conan said: “work hard and be kind, and amazing things will happen.” Obviously some great people have a lot of faith in me, so here’s hoping I don’t blow it!

4478720543 15c16f56ea o Interview with Seibei

The new line of shirts is a bit of indulgence for old fans, what made you decide to go down that route rather than go with more experimental designs?

I can’t remember where I read it, of course, but I do remember reading that a brand’s identity isn’t determined by the brand itself, but by the fans who support the brand. I’m trying to get on a more consistent schedule with releases and such, so I had to take a good, hard look at what my fans actually like. Zombies, dinosaurs, and weird slogans that sort of make sense – those are my bread and butter. My fans pay my rent, so why not give them what they want? This is going to be a big year for SEIBEI, so I figured I should get a few more top sellers under my belt to help me do as many shows as possible and get as many new fans as I could. This is, honestly, the first release where I’ve really thought about what my fans want as opposed to strictly what I want – I’m an artist but if I want to keep doing this I need to be mindful of the business element of it.

Apart from a little help here and there, how do you keep yourself sane being a one-man-brand working from home? Ever get lonely?

In addition to my friends and family, and my girlfriend Kate, who have all been very supportive, my fans are amazing, and it seems like whenever I’m having a rough day someone will drop me a line to tell me I’m awesome. That helps a lot – the fans are what make this all worthwhile. That said, it does get lonely in a way – I hope I can assemble a real team sooner rather than later. It’s just a matter of growth and finding people that I can trust who are similarly bent. Because I’ve been doing most everything by myself for so long, it’s tough to wrap my head around the idea of letting other people that far in, but let’s face it, Sisyphus could really use some help with this boulder.

4154679288 0d2b2e0cbe b 480x321 Interview with Seibei

You’re moving to Napa, CA, how do you see this impacting on Seibei, since you’ve obviously got a good relationship with your current printer on the East Coast?

That’s gonna be a tough one! I have a long standing relationship with them (for those who don’t follow every detail of my life, my current printers were my last employers and good friends of mine, American Icon in Newburgh, NY), but yeah, not being able to see the shirts in person will be a bummer, and all of those shipping charges will add up. I’ve actually been talking to people about having my own blank tees made in California, which would be great, and if that happens I’ll have no choice but to switch to a nearby printer – paying for shipping to New York and back again for every tee would just be a mess and a half. That might not happen anytime soon, but in that situation I’d definitely switch.

That said, living in Napa is going to be awesome. I’m going to miss taking the train to NYC to see shows, but instead I’ll get to take the train to San Francisco to see shows! I’m going to wear short sleeves all year and drink Anchor Steam as much as possible.

I ask everyone this, what was your biggest error when first starting out with Seibei?

Starting SEIBEI as a hobby that turned into a business that turned into a full-time job means that I’ve been learning how to run things as I go, and I’ve made a number of mistakes too embarrassing to run through here. I think my biggest mistake would be not approaching it like a business from the get go – these days I’m pretty on top of things but I can’t help but wonder how much better things would be if I’d run a tight ship from day one.

3308892104 f29dd9d327 o Interview with Seibei

A lot of people look to Seibei as inspiration when starting a brand, how does that feel?

It’s a great feeling for sure. I remember when I first met Johnny Cupcakes and told him how I’d been inspired by him ever since I saw some little blurb on him in Nylon magazine years and years ago, and now I’m privileged enough to be on the other side of that conversation every so often. The first time someone asked me to sign a shirt, I asked them where they wanted me to sign it and they said “oh, just sign it wherever you usually sign the shirt,” to which I had to humbly reply that they were the first person to ever ask me to do that. It’s great to feel like the work you do makes a difference and influences others.

That said, I wouldn’t look to me as an inspiration just yet. I’ve still got a long way to go.

The Seibei x Gregg Abbott tee looks badass, though not particularly like a Seibei design, have you considered doing more collaborations and who would you really like to work with?

I really love that one too, thanks! I don’t do collaborative tees too often but do want to have a few more peppered throughout the year. I’m actually planning on releasing a couple of tees in collaboration with my buddies Two Rabbits sometime soon. As for people I’d like to work with, Godmachine and Ray Frenden are two friends of mine who I’ve been talking about working with for years, and hopefully someday I’ll work up the brass to try and commission some pieces from comic artists like Matt Furie and Johnny Ryan. I have also been a fan of Evan Dorkin since I was a kid and would love to try to commission something by him eventually.

There are also some killer Japanese artists who will be showing at Design Festa, so I will be scouting for some possible collaborations and commissions there as well.

3308892152 a6fa52ba53 o Interview with Seibei

You seem to be buddies with quite a lot of bands, do you get hit up often by bands asking for free stuff, and do you think that there’s much value in it for a brand to give away their product, or is it more “hey, that cool band is wearing my stuff”?

I actually haven’t started “sponsoring” any new bands in a long time – I get requests all the time because of a blog post I made about two years ago on the subject, bless their little hearts, but I prefer to keep a good working relationship with a few bands rather than just haphazardly giving away stuff to anyone and hope people see it and like it. The few bands I do work with are all really awesome and I barely have enough time for them as it stands. Whenever I see ads for clothing companies that brag about what bands they sponsor, my first reaction is “who gives a shit,” but I realize that I’m a jaded old man. Sponsoring bands is great when done right, and there are plenty of brands who do it really well (Glamour Kills is probably the best example), but in general it’s not for me.

I usually like to ask people what their favourite foods are in an interview, but as I’ve actually eaten with you it seems a little redundant, so when you aren’t explaining Korean food to confused British people or enjoying a hangover curing burrito, what tickles your tastebuds?

I like all kinds of food, but I’m really looking forward to eating my way across Tokyo. One of my favorite dishes is a proper katsudon (fried pork cutlet with a bit of egg and sauteed onion over rice), and restaurants in the States always want to foul it up by throwing in superfluous vegetables that mess with what is a delicious, simple dish. I’m a big proponent of eating vegetables, of course, and try to eat vegetarian more often than not, but there is a time and place for everything. One of my friends is hooking me up with a good buddy of his who’s a dedicated ramen blogger (Nate of http://www.ramenate.com/), and I can’t wait to be up to my eyes in proper ramen again.

Other than that? Some other things I really like are good pickles (such as anything by Rick’s Picks http://rickspicksnyc.com/ or simple Japanese pickled daikon), a good banh mi, juevos rancheros, a good falafel or schwarma…it’s really a matter of what will hit the spot at that moment.

3792208494 2638c6c532 b 480x360 Interview with Seibei

How glad are you that you came up with the Intramural Zombie Hunter design? Having a shirt like that which is popular and sells well must be reassuring, and have you thought of creating anything else similar that would be attractive to people as a costume as much as a regular tee?

Making shirts for the Intramural Zombie Hunting League could be a company on its own. It’s a unique product that creates and satisfies a niche that most people don’t even think they have. Not many people think about what kind of casual uniform they’d have if zombie outbreaks were a common enough occurrence to be fought by what are essentially weekend softball league level zombie hunter teams. The idea came from being so bored with my restaurant management job that I’d wish for a zombie outbreak so I could run around and fight for my life all day rather than count the tills and refill the sauces at a kebob shop. It’s an interesting mythology and I really need to explore it further.

I know that a lot of people think Seibei is more than just one dude, but what I like about your brand is that it reflects your personality so much, from the site design down to the product descriptions and blog, I presume this was a conscious decision and do you think it helps you from a business point of view that visitors and fans feel that they have a connection to you personally?

Thanks Andy! This is definitely a conscious decision – it’s just me against the world. The way I see it is, by no means am I the best artist out there, or the best businessman, or the best salesman, but I think I have a unique combination of skills (think Liam Neeson in Taken) that have brought me to where I am today. If I want to survive and build the SEIBEI name, I have to bring something unique to the table…so I bring myself.

2485211430 0983c8875d o 480x437 Interview with Seibei

With that in mind, does it make it a lot harder to take when you get negative feedback? as if someone not liking one of your designs is like an attack on your personality.

It was hard at first (particularly because I wasn’t that great of a designer when I first started), but what I had to realize, especially having kind of a weird sense of humor and style, is that not everyone is going to like what you do. Though I do very well on the craft show circuit, for instance, some people will still look at my tees as if they stumbled upon a corpse. You just have to laugh it off. I’ve been weird for most of my life, so dealing with not being liked by everyone isn’t new to me.

Most of my best work is fueled by some sense of being an underdog, of being disliked.

Lastly, did you know you can get the subway at any time of the night in New York? That’s amazing!

I think the few times I’ve taken advantage of this I really wasn’t in a position to remember it, to be completely honest.

{ 7 comments }

jake nickell of threadless interview

Here’s what I like about the interviews I’ve been doing over the past few weeks; I’m asking people I find interesting questions I want to hear the answers to. I guess it’s a little self-indulgent, but I think it works and hopefully you guys are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. In the tee world, if there’s anyone that doesn’t need an introduction I think it’s Jake Nickell, he’s one of the founders of design competition giant Threadless, and therefore probably responsible in one way or another for part of your wardrobe.

1. Jake, I’m no businessman, what does a CSO do all day?

I’m CSO because I’m not businessman either! A couple years back, I finally hired our CEO, Tom Ryan, to help take over the ‘business’ stuff. Not my specialty and kind of stumbled into becoming a ‘entrepreneur’ after Threadless, my hobby, turned into a business. I took the title CSO (Chief Strategy Officer) because I love working on the community side of Threadless. I thought that since what differentiates ourself (our strategy) is our community – the title made sense. Maybe I should just cut to the chase and call myself Chief Community Collaborator or something. Titles are lame anyway.

What do I do all day? Well – a huge variety of stuff. I work closely with Tom to ensure that all the ‘business’ stuff we do makes sense for our community. I also work a lot on keeping the company innovative – making sure all our employees are empowered to make change and helping them to make their ideas happen. I work on Threadless projects of my own a lot too and still do a fair amount of coding on Threadless.com.

2033989111 87bdef3f0b o 480x319 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless

2. Am I right in thinking that you live permanently in Colorado now? And if so do you get back to Chicago much and do you miss the buzz of being in Threadless HQ on a regular basis?

Yep – in Boulder, CO. I get back every month or so. I do miss it, I miss everyone in Chicago, it was a tough decision. I knew I wanted to live here and raise my family here. I lived in Denver a bit growing up and always loved Colorado. The decision was personal and maybe staying in Chicago would’ve been better for the company but sometimes you gotta make sacrifices to balance your work/personal lives. I absolutely love it out here!

3. Do you ever just wake up and think “I’m the coolest dude on earth”?

Haha no! I usually wake up and think “Damnit why can’t my daughter sleep in past 6 just ONCE.” I do have an ongoing quest to be #1 on Google for the search “coolest dude on earth” and I have been there for like 5 years now! Fun.

4. A few years back I almost had an internship with a company in Boulder, so when I was researching the place everything I found said “best place to live in America,” do you agree?

Absolutely. Every day I see more about how great this town is. I had no idea before moving here that there was such a strong tech & startup scene. Apparently, we have the most startups per capita here than anywhere else in the US. And I love getting involved with it all. It’s impossible to walk downtown here without seeing someone you know who is doing something amazing. Very inspiring place to be. And that’s not even taking into consideration the terrain… It is so beautiful here, and so many outdoor activities to do.

19262 325189277550 502527550 4008362 1279416 n 479x479 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
5. A few years ago I read an interview with someone from Threadless (I think it was either you or Jacob) saying that because of the way the company was growing it wouldn’t need VC investment, and then Insight became a partner of yours, what changed?

What really got us thinking about this is that Amazon actually wanted to buy us around this time. Although we knew we didn’t want to do that – it did get us to start thinking about these types of things. We didn’t need investment when we did our deal with Insight. We’ve been highly profitable since our first month when we earned back the $500 we each put in to get started and that’s never changed. There were two main reasons for us to do this. First, it was a way for Jacob and I to sell a minority of our shares to make some money for ourselves for what we built up until then. Second, we needed help (not money) in running the business. It was growing so fast underneath us and we are both college drop outs doing this for fun. We were unable to manage the growth… for example, sometimes it would take us over a month to ship an order out because we were so overwhelmed with orders. What we liked so much about Insight was that they had a team called “Insight On Site” that came in and helped us with our problems. They weren’t just a faceless VC firm.

6. I often think of the t-shirt world like bands, all the cool kids want to know about the latest and greatest indie band and hate them by the time they’re on MTV, do you think that there is a danger of Threadless suffering a backlash from early adopters, or should they just get over it and accept that it’s good for your business to be popular?

Sure, and that’s normal. I think we’ve seen a lot of customers come and go and come back again. What I think is really neat about Threadless though is that it evolves with the times. We are never stuck with one style of music that defines us. We’re not going to purposefully stop growing to stay ‘indie’ but we can definitely ensure that we produce stuff that has niche appeal in addition to things that have more mass appeal. There are some people who won’t want anything to do with us purely due to our size and that’s fine too. Personally, I buy from small indie tee labels all the time but that doesn’t mean I can’t also appreciate Threadless. To me, each artist who submits to Threadless is basically their own little indie brand.

3173837425 f36f37429d o 480x640 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
7. As I sit here at my PC, looking to my left I see a sticker for extratasty.com on my printer. It seemed like a solid concept when it launched, crowd-sourced drink recipes, I’m hesitant to call it a failure, but it obviously hasn’t been a big success, why do you think that is?

I think what happens with our side projects is they suffer from a lack of attention. I think we’ve had some pretty cool ideas that could’ve gone somewhere if we were able to focus on them. Threadless pulls that focus away and these projects are destined to fail before we even start them! It’s a shame and we’re trying to think of ways that we can get around that.

8. Also on the subject of skinnyCorp side projects, I Park Like An Idiot is a work of genius, how much skinnyCorp time gets devoted to small, fun ideas like this, and are you always hoping to find “the next big thing” to be as successful as Threadless?

IPLAI is nice because it can sit completely on it’s own with no one managing it and it just does it’s thing. What we’re trying to do now is to do more of these small, fun ideas but keep the core to Threadless. So we are able to do cool new off-the-wall type things but it makes sense to be a Threadless project. Things like Naked & Angry could’ve been Threadless Patterns and made more sense for us now. When you’re having to deal with whole separate brands they just aren’t going to get the attention they deserve from us. We are actually a pretty small, tight company – we don’t want to go doing a bunch of hiring to manage all these side projects.

281105830 e738752dc9 480x319 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
9. My apologies if this isn’t true, but I’m sure I heard a story that Threadless was going to open a warehouse in London to cut down on the time that European Threadless fans waited to get shirts in their hands, did I imagine this or was it just something that didn’t work out as being feasible?

We looked into it a couple years back but have decided not to at this point. We have vastly improved our ability to ship to the rest of the world from Chicago (though it still is not ideal.) Our strategy now is to go one step at a time. We’ve identified the first step as translating our website into languages but continuing to ship from Chicago. Those translated sites will roll out over the coming weeks. Then we’ll take it from there. Maybe next we localize currency or content – or we set up various fulfillment centers. Having to duplicate inventory/warehouse is hard. So we’re tackling the easy problems first like translation. Maybe rather than shipping from London, we find it’s best to have a really great retail partner in Europe that carries Threadless in physical retail stores. We’ll learn as we go.

1358020482 4fb3dc4e4a 480x319 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
10. Are there any plans to open more retail stores outside of Chicago?

Nope. At first we thought it would be cool but while profitable, they really don’t do THAT great. Not compared to the site. What we would look into doing is working with a partner to duplicate the environment within other stores or to do a chain for us… something like that is pretty unlikely and a long ways off if it were to happen but the one thing we do know is that we wouldn’t do it ourselves. Our store is a great proof of concept for what a Threadless store should be and I’d love to expand it, but not myself icon smile Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless

Screen shot 2010 03 26 at 1.21.15 PM 480x72 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
[You can try, but you won't be able to read it, all we know is that there's a lot going on] 11. 2010 is obviously a big year for Threadless with lots of activities for the 10th anniversary of the company being founded. There’s the road tour, Chicago Meetup, the 10/10/10 party in Boulder, even a book, and I’m guessing at least one more $10 tee sale before the year is out, can the community expect even more surprises?

Yea we have an absolutely ridiculous amont of stuff planned. Here’s our promo calendar for the rest of the year just that we’ve built to date. It’s complete madness and I am just stunned at the amount that we are able to accomplish these days. Huge shout out to the Threadless team here.

12. Threadless Loves has involved lots of really interesting collaborations, is there anyone out there that you’d really like to work with, and has anyone ever said no to being in a Threadless Loves competition?

No one has said no because 99% of these were done with companies that approached us to do them. I really dig the loves challenges, it’s fun to see what people come up with. I think my dream loves contest would be one with South Park where the winning design is worn by Cartman in an episode!

4443684966 909844af49 480x360 Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless
13. If my Twitter-stalking is right, you’ve got two kids, including baby (a ‘nickel’ to your dollar, if you will) has this seen you taking a bit of a step back from day-to-day operations at Threadless to focus on your family, and if so, how do you juggle that?

In the first few years of Threadless I was working non-stop … all day, all night. It was unhealthy. I began working more regular hours around ’05 so I’ve been balancing for quite a while now. I still work regular 8 hour days today and often times find myself doing work for a few hours at night after the kid’s go to bed, but in between I really focus on my family. That’s what’s truly important icon smile Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless You can always be thinking about things – you don’t have to be sitting at your desk behind a computer to work. Some of my best work gets done in the bathtub. I’ve actually been working from home the past few weeks and am right now. We are between office spaces in Boulder. I get up for 15 minute breaks every now and then and build Arli a fort or change a Dash diaper.

14. So, what’s to come in the next 10 years of Threadless, jetpacks?

One thing’s for sure – we won’t plan that far ahead! … Lately I’ve been trying to keep Threadless as organic as possible – becoming what it needs to be at any moment. When you get too locked up into a plan it makes it difficult to change. I like to just let it do its thing, steering the ship with the current icon smile Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless I have a dream that we can teleport-ship tees by then because shipping BLOWS.

Thanks a lot for taking the time to answer my questions, Jake!

Thanks for the interview! I am a long time HYA reader, love the blog icon smile Interview with Jake Nickell, founder of Threadless

{ 14 comments }

Interview with Eric Terry of Linty Fresh

by Andy on March 29, 2010

linty fresh interview

You guys know me, so you know I love t-shirts, travel, and food. So in this interview you can expect me to ask Eric Terry, the man behind Linty Fresh, about his clothing company, what life is like in China now that he has lived there for almost a year (with a bit of a break in the middle), and what weird stuff he’s eaten. I don’t really feel like Eric or his company need an introduction since they’re such a regular feature on HYA, putting out lots of great designs, and being something of an inspiration for the tee community, so we might as well get straight into it.
[click to continue…]

{ 2 comments }

jake nickell of threadless

In case you thought that Threadless was only good for stalking people and performing menial labour tasks and calling it fun (I’m talking about FarmVille), I spotted this cool note from Jake Nickell, one of the founders of t-shirt powerhouse Threadless, showing an e-mail exhange he had with some asking him about the early days of Threadless. Here’s part of the e-mail sent to him:

I’m mostly just amazed that you were able to start a company for $1000.

My future partner and I seem to be spinning our wheels, continually changing our business model and general idea for what we want to create. I think this is due to the fact that taking the step from concept to reality has so many hurdles we don’t know where to start. What was the first step you and your partner made to make Threadless a reality? If you could do it over, what would you do differently?

How long after coming up with the idea for the company did it take for the first shirt to be sold?

How would you have done things differently if you had $20,000 instead of $1000 to start up Threadless? Was money a real limiting factor?

I’m sure you haven’t made TOO many mistakes, but what was the first big mistake you made while creating Threadless?

Thank you again, and I totally understand if you don’t have the time to answer any/all of the above questions!

Random Question: I know you got the first $1000 for Threadless by winning a T-shirt design competition, but have you ever had any of your designs printed by Threadless?

And here is his response:

Yo! Good questions. My answers all revolve around the fact that Threadless started as a hobby not a business. The company was started 1 hour after the idea was born. It started as a thread on a web forum. We simply asked people to post tee designs, we’d pick some good ones and make them – and sell them… Giving the designer a few free tees for themselves.

As a designer and member of the art forum, this was just a fun project/thing to do for the community. $20k would have been way too much to spend on a pet project like that. It’s kind of like saying would you have been better at becoming a good skateboarder if you had $20k to buy your first board and build some ramps rather than $500. I’d never want to spend that much on an unknown hobby.

When we posted that thread nothing operationally existed at all. We had no t-shirt printer lined up, had no idea how we would sell the tees, no business entity. This is when we put the $1,000 together. (which was actually out of pocket – I didn’t win anything but my design bein printed in that first competition) I used $200 of it to talk to an accountant about setting up a sole proprietorship. I was 100% owner under this structure for the first 3 years before we became a corporation and I gave some ownership to my partner. Who, btw, was another member of that forum that I talked to a lot. Just great to have someone else excited about the project to bounce ideas off of.

The first contest on that thread was in november ‘00 – we had the winning tees up for sale on a crappy website by February ‘01 and that is when we made our first sale. For the couple years that followed, we had a separate bank account collecting revenue, using 100% of it to just print more tees. We didn’t take a salary at all.

There is absolutely nothing I would change. Honestly.

I know that quite a lot of you will already be aware of the backstory to Threadless, but it’s still good to hear it from another angle and in such a candid way.

{ 0 comments }

Interview with Gama-Go Founder Greg Long

by Andy on March 22, 2010

gama-go interview with greg long

I’m really getting into this whole interview thing, it’s fun asking interesting people questions and getting entertaining responses, and I think that the more of them I do the better I get at asking questions, or perhaps it’s just that I’m asking the right people questions, because Greg Long (one of the founders of Gama-Go) has given me some great answers to the various questions I asked him about life, San Francisco, his eclectic clothing/art/homewares/everything brand, and how to survive a bear attack.

I’m not going to do the clichéd blogger thing of suggesting that you get a cup of coffee and put your feet up to read this interview since it’s pretty long, but it’s a really enjoyable read so I think it is deserving of your time, and if you were thinking of heading to San Francisco some time (as I know the C-Dog is this week), there’s some great tips you’ll want to check out.

[click to continue…]

{ 1 comment }

The Coty Gonzales Interview

by Andy on March 12, 2010

coty gonzales in portland

If you read Hide Your Arms you probably know who Coty Gonzales is. If not, he’s another tee blogger, a good one, who has been writing about shirts (and more) for the past couple of years, and is quite a lot more comfortable in videos than I am. I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I’dlike to get into doing more interviews on HYA, and I thought that Coty would be interesting since us tee bloggers are usually pretty sociable but people don’t really know much about us because you don’t really need much of a backstory to be a tee blogger, you just have to like t-shirts. I can’t lie, this isn’t a short interview, it’s 13 questions, but I get bored of reading the same questions and answers on other blogs, so I’ve tried to change things up a bit so I asked Coty questions that focused on him and what he does rather than general questions I could ask to anyone in the street. Coty is a damn good blogger, so if you’re a tee blogger wondering why you aren’t getting the traffic you want I suggest that you give this a read and learn from it.

[click to continue…]

{ 8 comments }

willem von tinkel An interview with the Hipstery (and a coupon code!)

I said on Tuesday that I was going to run an interview with The Hipstery ‘later this week’ and bam, midnight on Friday, here’s an interview with Willem Von Tinkel, it’s like I’m a professional or something!

How did you come up with the idea for the site?
Well the year was 1922 and the summer long and endless. I was taking a voyage on the HMS Belfrey to the Newfoundland. After a night of heavy liquid intoxication I entered a poker game with a burly mustached Russian, terribly nice chap, political views aside. A few hands and a mistimed pre-flop ‘all in’ later, I’d squandered the family fortune. Destitute and facing a life time of shunnage I jumped overboard. Luckily I slipped and fell to the deck below where I promptly fell unconscious. Good times.

It’s a pretty strange idea though, do you really think anyone will pay 16eur for a t-shirt they’ve not seen?
Well the psychology of mystery is pretty well documented, from Kinder Eggs to Blind Dates, to Lost. So that part we’ll pass quickly over. There’s another thing we like to call it the opposability factor. The more one approach becomes standard and idealized the more opportunity there is for a few people to do the complete opposite and attract people disillusioned by that standard. We’re the counterpart to an endless striving for more choice, more options, more control. While other sites might offer 147 ways to skin a cat, we offer you one, our way.

Plus our shirts are pretty epic.

Where do the shirts come from?
Simply from the best T-Shirt stores out there. Since our team has been in this business some time now designing, discussing, selling and wearing a lot of T-shirts we have quite a standard and fair impression what makes an extraordinary “Tee”. Usually, our T-Shirts aren’t available at the original source anymore. We would never sell a shirt we would not be proud to wear ourselves.

Are you not just piggybacking on the hardwork of other t-shirt brands?
Preposterous. We got into this to help promote those brands, the brands we cherish. Every shirt we sell is accompanied with the logo and a paragraph of text about the site it originates from, we want to promote great art. We will add more great T-shirt stores, anyone interested should get in touch with us if they’re looking to spread their word and their shirts in Europe.

Who do you see as your target customers?
That is tricky. It’s probably not the average cotton enthusiast that reads Hide Your Arms, you guys are fanatical about shirts and know where to find great ones already. I’d suspect our audience wants the joy of discovery without too much work in the process of that discovering. Or they just want an unusual experience and something novel. Hipstery shirts are also great gifts, with the pressure for picking something the receiver will love falls on our broad shoulders, not yours.

What if I don’t like the shirt I get?
We are true believers in our tastes and technology – I am confident the algorithm our team developed works just perfectly. If, however, you don’t like what you get, you can you can invoke our 2000% satisfaction guarantee, which basically makes you twenty times as happy as a 100% guarantee, possibly maths is not a strongpoint of mine.

Who is behind the site?
We’ve laid our souls bare on the Meet the Team page. Not even our parole officers know that much about us. It is a mystery we keep. Not even all of the team know who is on the team, that’s how secretive we are.

And now you know! The Hipstery team have also been kind enough to provide us with a coupon code that will last for the next seven days and give you 25% off your order (saving you €4 per tee), that coupon code is hideyourpalms.

{ 7 comments }

amarillophoto 480x418 Jimiyo interviews a.mar.illo for DesignByHumans

a.marill.o (aka Sven Palmovski, the 61st human on DBH) is one of my favorite t-shirt designers, so it’s hardly surprising that I enjoyed this interview with him conducted by jimiyo, maybe you will too.

{ 0 comments }

64 480x320 Fabulous Nobodies interviews Alvaro Ilizarbe

I’m going to be straight up with you, I have no idea who Alvaro Ilizarbe is, and when I got an e-mail from Fabulous Nobodies (FABNOB, who I also hadn’t encountered before, though they count me as a friend in their sidebar, so they must be good people) asking if it was ‘worthy of a mention on HYA’ I figured it wouldn’t be, because why would I point you towards an interview with someone I’d never heard of? But I was putting the cart before the horse, and I actually enjoyed the interview, and finding out about Alvaro’s clothing line, Freegums.

streetwear mens t shirts tshirts tees down under fabnob 1243900064313 480x233 Fabulous Nobodies interviews Alvaro Ilizarbe

FABNOB, who apart from having a name that makes us Brits titter, seem to be trying to bring good non-Aussie brands to Australians, kind of like Electric Press are doing in the UK. At the moment they’ve got Dance Party Massacre, Seibei, Glamour Kills, Imaginary Foundation and Local Celebrity on their roster, amongst others, so if you’re Australian and sick of paying exorbitant shipping fees when buying from non-native brands, FABNOB would probably be worth a look.

{ 0 comments }

Lab Mag interviews Johnny Cupcakes

by Andy on April 6, 2009

syracuse organizers 480x319 Lab Mag interviews Johnny Cupcakes

Usually when people Johnny Cupcakes we get to hear the same old “started in his car trunk… didn’t sell out to big chains… loves his customers” story, but The Lab Mag (I think this interview was actually conducted by Aris from Addicteed) have put together a great interview that actually covers new ground (gasp!). Check it out here.

{ 2 comments }

Coty Gonzalez interviews me!

by Andy on March 25, 2009

3383602089 f2f0ea213d Coty Gonzalez interviews me!

I probably should have mentioned earlier that I’m taking a few days off from HYA (my brother has come to visit me in Philly, and I’m ill, so there’s just no time for HYA), but if you need your fix of Andy, I recently answered a few questions from ‘the hardest working tee blogger in the whole damn world,’ Coty Gonzales.

Check out the interview here.

{ 4 comments }

tokidoki’s co-founder and Creative Director Simone Legno welcomed KarmaloopTV into the tokidoki studio for an exclusive glimpse into his methods and imagination.

Was I the only person that previously thought that Simone Legno was a woman, having never seen a picture of him and all the people I’ve met in the past called Simone being female?

Simone Legno interviewed by KarmaloopTV

{ 3 comments }

full lolita img 51 Leah McSweeney gets the SpearTalks treatment

I might have mentioned Married to the M.O.B (Most Official Bitches) in the past, I can’t remember, but I’m sure I’ve at least intended to, because they put out some really impressive pieces, and are a pretty big deal when it comes to the oft neglected world of womens streetwear. Leah McSweeney, the founder of MOB, had an interview posted on JoshSpear.com a few weeks ago and it is a pretty entertaining read, packed full of language that sailors would approve of. It really speaks to me about the power of personalities behind brands, with Johnny of Johnny Cupcakes being the other guy that immediately springs to mind when this issue comes up, along with Nigo at A Bathing Ape, and Pharrell Williams (and Nigo, again) at BBC/Ice Cream on the higher-end of things. The cult of personality can have a huge effect when it comes to clothing brands, if people like the designer, then they’re going to be a lot more inclined to buy something from that person, whereas if you’re kind of a dick, don’t expect many sales from Andy, or much love from the media.SpearTalks: Leah McSweeney – Married to the M.O.B

{ 0 comments }

Threadless gets the SpearTalks treatment

by Andy on January 7, 2008

threadlesslogo Threadless gets the SpearTalks treatment

I was perusing my old bookmarks, when I noticed “SpearTalks: Threadless – Josh Spear“, and thought, “hey, people might like to read this!”

There aren’t any startling revelations, but if you need to brush up on your Threadless history and want to learn a bit more about the guys that run Threadless, its a pretty decent read, although some of the info is a little dated now since the interview is from last September.

One very interesting thing I picked up from the interview:

Threadless goes international… because we set up a partnership to have a mirror warehouse just north of London to better serve our European customers. We haven’t launched that, but the year ain’t over yet!

Was anyone else aware of this? Its certainly the first time that I’ve heard it mentioned. Hopefully this will lead to lower shipping charges for us EU dwellers and no more customs charges (like being charged £11 on £22 worth of goods – sickening!).


SpearTalks: Threadless

{ 0 comments }

Cotton Filter: 101207

by Andy on December 10, 2007

Spear Talks: Tado: One of my favourite blogs talks to one of my favourite art/illustration duos. No huge revelations, but a fun little interview.

The Quiet Life: A little holiday bonus from the guys at TQL:

Every order placed before Dec. 25th that’s over $75.00 will receive a free QL Camera Club book (vol. 2) and a free Poo Poodles CD. And every order over $100.00 will recieve a free Camera Club book, a free Poo Poodles CD, and a free QL Tshirt.

Threadbanger: Our friends over at Threadbanger have a new episode out, this ones all about hair! (yeah, I know, this ain’t ‘Hide Your Scalp’…)

Bountee gets a forum: I don’t really understand why all t-shirt design competitions don’t have forums in some form or another, it seems like something that would help to create a better feeling of community. It’s pretty bare bones and quiet at the moment as it was only announced a few days ago, but it still seems like a good addition to this increasingly impressive site.

Glarkware: Free shipping on orders over $75

{ 0 comments }

Get smart with the Thesis WordPress Theme from DIYthemes.

Links:timberland boots outletcheap timberland bootsnike air force one chilelouboutin pas cheroakley femmemoncler pas chernike tn requin pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cherair max pas cher