Several years ago and inspired by a gaffe during the 2012 presidential campaign, I designed a t-shirt. In less than a day I designed the shirt and built a landing page to collect email addresses from people interested in the shirt. A few days later, I launched a Shopify store to allow people to pre-order the shirt. ~160 people pre-ordered the shirt.
In the months following the sale, I struggled to fulfill my orders. The shirts were printed relatively quickly, but at the time I couldn’t figure out how to print out postage-paid shipping labels in order to ship the shirts. After several months of delays, I offered refunds to anyone who pre-ordered a shirt and wanted one while promising to send the shirt regardless of whether the refund was accepted. I think it ended up taking about 6 months to finally get the shirts delivered to my customers.
It was an incredibly embarrassing screwup. Ironic, given the shirt was designed to poke fun of someone else’s mistake.
Ever since, I’ve been hesitant to try another side project like that. While I love the idea of designing and selling merchandise online (the first product I ever sold was a t-shirt for my band), I couldn’t justify the risk of not being able to fulfill the orders that came in.
Services like Cafepress will print and fulfill orders of products featuring designs uploaded by designers, but I’ve never been impressed by the quality of their products. Also, your products are displayed alongside everyone else’s work, which takes away from your ability to build your own brand identity.
Last year I discovered Printful, a service that will print and fulfill orders for products you design. The downside was that in order to have your own store, you had to pay for a pro Shopify account, which was ~$300 upfront. To test things out, I set up a store and ran a few ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit. In total I spent around $600 to test my idea.
I sold 0 shirts.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Max Tempkin informed me about Threadless Artist Shops, an all-in-one print and fulfillment service that lets you set up a store for free. As Max wrote, “I just make the design and collect the money.”
That sounded simple enough to me!
I was itching to check it out, but was just days away from spending 9-days off grid in the wilderness of Newfoundland with by brother.
Last week, I was reminded by a tweet from Andy Berdan that I wanted to give Threadless’s service a try.
I want a shirt that says “Abnormal is normal.”
“I can do that,” I thought.
A few hours later and the design was available for purchase.
A Wonderful Shop of Wonderful Wonders (NSFW) is my new online store. There you’ll find the design requested by Andy, the oft-requested re-release of the Helvetcia design, and a few more fun original designs. All orders are printed and shipped by Threadless. They’ll also take care of any issues you have with the products you receive.
I just collect the money.
To celebrate the launch of the shop, I’m offering a promotional discount on all products on the store. The promotional period will end when I remember to log into Threadless to turn it off.
Visit the shop to find men’s, women’s, gender neutral, and kid’s apparel, home decor, and accessories featuring a variety of original designs. Follow the new Twitter account or sign up for the newsletter to be notified of new products and promotions. And share the shop’s URL — awonderful.shop — with your friends and family.