Wednesday, March 5, 2008
learning to listen
I have been so busy with the t-shirt end of the business that I have been very neglectful in keeping this blog fresh as promised. I often struggle to strike a successful balance between the number of caps I have to wear and the number of hours in a day. Here's what's been going on at Red Barn Studios:
About six years ago when we got into the screenprinting business I essentially took on a second job. In addition to my existing graphic design business, I would now be devoting a part of each day to the necessary maintenance work critical to growing a new business. Much of this work is non-creative in the traditional sense... marketing, preparing quotes, processing orders, customer support. I'm pleased to say that my efforts are paying off as the business grows each year.
Over a year ago we decided to add an e-commerce element to our screenprinting business. Unlike our current custom order business, this would be a preprinted line of t-shirts that we would design, print, and sell online. I went back and forth with concepts ranging from soccer t-shirts, to humorous t-shirts and I even considered soliciting designs that would be voted on by the online community, the winners going to print. Threadless.com was doing this, quite successfully and a number of other sites as well. The fact that it was already being done didn't intimidate me in the least, there's always room for competition. Need I mention Home Depot & Lowes, McDonald's & Burger King, etc., etc?
But all along, something just didn't feel right. None of the ideas really clicked, even when I took a number of them well into product development. I felt that my partner, while supportive, was not 100% onboard. And I wasn't comfortable going forward without 100% enthusiasm.
So oddly, the question became not "what did the t-shirt buying public want?" but "what would Flip get jazzed about?
For months he had been telling me that he wanted to design a few surfing t-shirts and a few caps and put them on ebay. I wasn't listening when he went on and on about designing for the older, real surfers. Quicksilver and Billabong had it covered for the younger crowd as well as all the surfer wannabes. The ones who had never surfed but bought into the culture nonetheless. He was talking about cool stuff for his generation of surfers. But again, I wasn't listening. You see, as soon as he mentioned ebay I stopped listening. That's not what I had in mind.
But had I not been so close-minded I would have paid attention to the important part. What would Flip get jazzed about? He'd been telling me all along.
So if you visit dukescloset.com you'll see our recently published under construction page. And you'll see Flip off to pursue his passion.
As for me, my passion is in designing. More on that to come.