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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wear Yourself On Your Sleeve

Remember when those “Event Staff” and “Federal Prison” t-shirts became popular to wear on your day out? We didn’t know it at the time, but it was just the beginning of a t-shirt boom.

The Internet got wind of the mass production of these trickery shirts and an entire industry was born. Now you can immortalize a famous movie quote, iconic celebrity faux pas, or old timey product ad and emblazon it across your chest for a cheap price. But why would you want to do such a thing?

I think it’s safe to say we have moved from a society of constant plain, white button ups to a culture of self-expression. We want what we use to represent us and we want to wear it on our sleeves. If we can wear a “That’s what she said” joke everywhere we go, that’s even better. You can go to a number of websites to buy a cotton (and sometimes organic) shirt on any topic under the sun. Some will make your mother gasp and some will reinforce some good points, but all will represent some frame of mind.

Like all things, the pop culture t-shirt business has begun to evolve. Take DonkeyTees, for starters. Here we can find the classic array of hilarious shirts designed to keep fleeting moments of news and media alive. Shirts range from $12 to $20 according to popularity and will arrive at your door in 3 to 5 business days, within the US. For a few more dollars you can get your design on a hoodie. Pretty straightforward and pretty priceless website.

Then you have a little dynamic thrown in with "Shirt.Woot" -- where designers submit their ideas to the website, which are then voted into selling. Every week a theme is announced and the designers flood the site with designs. They have to be kept there by votes and sales, otherwise they are gone. Some are kept as “classics”, those who have sold the most over time. There’s a new shirt on the front page every day, at a featured price, according to that week’s theme.

Little did you know, a new, local Palm Coast business called Look Crispy is about to shake things up again.

Founder Joey Santos runs his company based on the belief you can have a tshirt that represents who you are by what’s on the front of it and still maintain a crisp style.

Recently, I was able to ask him some questions over Big Macs about the business, how it got started, and what his experience has been starting something new.

Check out the interview below:

Joey Santos
Founder, Designer
Look Crispy
Q: What lead you to the idea of a Tshirt company?
JS: It was something I've been hugely passionate about since I was in High School. I've always collected shirts and can remember the first time I received a package in the mail with a t-shirt I ordered. It felt like Christmas. I want others to feel that way with our shirts. They can't wait to get one, and can't wait to wear one.

Q: Why "Look Crispy"?
JS: Sometimes you'll use the word "Crisp" to describe a piece of clothing. Perhaps I'm the only one who uses the word to describe clothing. Nonetheless, "Look Crispy" is based off the idea that a t-shirt will freshen up your look. It just goes with everything. When you walk out the door, you just Look Crispy.

Q: What are some of the challenges thus far?
JS: I knew going into it I wanted to have everything be a certain quality. So I had to test and try on every type of shirt I could find. I have a closet filled with blank white shirts and different qualities in my closet now. This is my business, this is my life. I believe that. Unfortunately, there's a lot more to a business than just selling t-shirts. It was a huge challenge but truthfully, a fun one.

Q: Launch date and first deal advertised?
JS: Our launch date is September 4th. We will have 2 designs. Each one has been hand-drawn, painted, followed by being illustrated digitally, followed by finishing touches. We're teaming with the Greater Good ORGanization to have proceeds from one of our t-shirts (will be available at launch) go directly to the victims of the Gulf spill. We knew who we wanted to be partnered with when we saw that they will donate 100%.

Q: How do you plan to be different from other internet tshirt companies?
JS: We do it because we love it. While our name is "Look Crispy" and our logo is Mr. Bacon Glasses, all our shirts are designed to be creative and have meaning, not movie quotes and puns. We believe in wearing something that represents you and we believe in providing a product that brings out confidence in those that wear it. This is our life.

Q: Any advice for the fellow startup business?
JS: Know your brand. Having a Facebook page isn't enough. Go out there and talk to your potential consumers and understand what they want. You can always be experienced but always be open to learning.
Be ready to have your product not sell. Be ready to worry and pace. If selling online or selling your services isn't working, say online, be ready to go out there and sell it to every individual.
Be Unique. You're against massive companies. Why should a consumer buy your product instead of the more inexpensive product? They want something that represents them. Why do people buy Apple products instead of cheaper PCs? Who else is like Apple?
Just do it. I have so many dreams and aspirations, I'd go crazy to just sit on them. You don't succeed without going all-in. I would throw every penny I have into the business just because I love it.

If you want to be first in line to preorder a Look Crispy tshirt and support Joey and his vision, you can do it here:

If you are on social media, you can follow Joey Santos' Look Crispy on twitter, and connect with him on Look Crispy on Facebook

by Lauren Mack
Lauren Mack is an aspiring writer, blogger, and overall enthusiast of brainstorms. Home is in Palm Coast, FL, where she works a customer service job for magazine subscriptions. When she isn’t helping you out on the phone, Lauren attends Flagler College where she majors in English and dabbles in Communications. In Lauren’s downtime she labors away, hopefully, at a novel and can be found observing things on her blog or dashing about on Twitter @heylaurenmack

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