Crowdfunding takes a new twist with Tee Originals. Launch-promote-fund-ship is the name of the game that allows groups, organizations and even aspiring designers to create custom t-shirts and parlay those designs for funds – and do it for free.
Tee Originals Owner Michael Beckman recently answered The Metropreneur’s questions about what makes their platform different, and takes us through the steps of starting a campaign.
[M] Tell us about the background of Tee Originals and how the company started. How long have you been in business?
I have been in the apparel business for 38 years. I have worked for many of the major brands and have spent years giving lectures, seminars and making consulting visits around the world. I am considered a leader in the printed textile industry. I even had the honor of building a state-of-the-art, environmentally-friendly print factory in Cambodia that employed about 500 hundred deserving people.
Tee Originals is a startup. We have been working on our website for six months and have been ‘live’ for about a month. We have our own printing facility in North Carolina which has been around for 10 years. All of our printing is done in the U.S. at this factory.
[M] What makes Tee Originals different from other t-shirt fundraising platforms?
All of the above is really what sets us apart. We are not tech people with a huge budget looking to be a ‘billion dollar company’ as one of our competitors has said in Forbes, but are instead long-time apparel people looking to help people raise money for something they are passionate about and support our U.S. workers.
Additionally we work with all of our customers individually. I handle this personally in many cases. Because I was responsible for creating many of the most common print techniques in the industry and our factory has been doing state-of-the-art printing in the U.S. for many major brands, we feel we do the best printing in the business.
[M] Why do individuals or groups start campaigns? Are they largely fundraising/cause-based or just-for-fun designs?
Most of our customers are trying to raise money for a cause like animal rescue groups, funding for medical care, schools and churches. We also have some campaigns from people trying to start their own clothing lines, so it is a mix and that is really what we like. We are a platform for all.
[M] Say I want to start a campaign. Walk me through that process.
We really hope we have made this fun and easy for anyone to do. You just click on ‘Start a Campaign’ and it takes you to our online design application. We spent months working on this feature and we feel it is better than what our competitors offer.
Once there you can pick any number of different types of shirt, from a zippered sweatshirt to a fashionable tank top. You can choose from dozens of different colors and even have the opportunity to do multiple different types of garments within the same campaign.
Once you have your garment picked out you can add your own type and choose dozens of different typefaces and colors. You can also upload your own art of any kind or use our great clip art library. Then you can change the colors or move the art and type around until you have the shirt exactly as you like it. We are willing to offer as much professional design support as you want.
At that point you set a sales goal and a timeline. We have very low minimums and allow the minimum to be spread between many different product types. We offer any timeline our customers want, and, again, these are all things that set us apart.
[M] What happens once a campaign is funded? What does your fulfillment process look like?
Once the campaign has ended we send out notifications to the campaign manager, the factory and the customers and start printing and shipping to each individual purchaser. They have already picked the product and size they want, so we can print and ship within a week.
[M] What if a campaign isn’t funded?
If the campaign has not sold enough shirts to print we send out notifications and offer some alternatives like extending the campaign or creating a new campaign, and we often print the shirts even though they have not reached the minimum. Before the campaign ends we track the sales with the campaign manager and offer support in helping them promote their campaign before the time runs out. We have even run ads for some campaigns ourselves in order to help. We follow up personally to all of our customers with all the help we can provide.
For more information, visit teeoriginals.com.