News and Hearsay
A lot of people have asked my brother to put up video tutorials on his process. Believe me , we actually think that's a good idea. We will have to get to it sometime. Would give us an excuse to have a proper Youtube channel. In the meantime I would point out that nothing improves skill like good old practice.
As most of you know, this past weekend Boomslank was at our very first convention. Don't get me wrong, as individuals, we have been to conventions. This time though, we went not as individuals, but as Boomslank, so yea, kind of a big deal. We always knew we would have to do a con sooner or later, but we've been to Animazement in Raleigh, NC and have seen how overwhelming they can be. In other words, we were.....kinda scared. So we decided to start small at the artist alley at IchibanCon in Charlotte instead. Great idea, I thought.
Going as a regular person, I kinda know what to expect from a con. Walk around a lot, look at some awesome costumes, take a break by watching one of the many anime showings, check out the dealers, etc. Going as an artist/dealer, it is completely different. For starters, you have no time to actually "go" to the convention. You have to man your table at all times, lest your wares be pilfered. As a result, you come to the end of 13 hours, and find that you have sat in the same place for 9 of those hours. Very sad thought. And then there is the preparation, oh the horrible preparation. Did we forget anything, how are we setting up our table, who do we talk to about this, who do we talk to about that, just so much to think about. Add to that the fact that we were going as sponsors, so there were certain obligations we had to meet. Stress levels were a little high. But all in all, it was a fantastic experience. We have been to two conventions earlier, and we have to say this was the first authentic con experience we have ever had. Since we were sponsoring the con, we were given a pretty rocking spot for out table. Our neighbors were pretty awesome too. We sat next to the SpacePod club wear table, and those guys were great fun. All in all, this was a major learning experience. We gained some tips on how to run a successful artist alley table. Here are some of the main observations we made though: Celebrity guests at the con rock!
With all the anime we watch, we had never given a passing though to how it would feel to meet the voices behind our favorite characters. But when Vic Mignogna (Full Metal Alchemist, Dragonball Z, Bleach) came by our table to redeem his gift card, we have to admit that was a pretty special moment. Apparently he likes mechs, as you can tell from the picture. He is one of the funniest guys you will ever meet. Lisa Ortiz (Pokemon, Slayers, Yu-Gi-Oh) was another hilarious one. She was super nice and was a huge fan of Airport. She even tried one on! Looking good Lisa! Our artist was absolutely ecstatic to hear their kind words for his work. We love them all and hope to see them in more cons. There is way more anime out there than one could watch in a lifetime, and that makes me sad.
We can't even count how many cosplays we saw. It is just mind-boggling how much anime there is to see. In some ways it's a good thing, 'cause you will never be without something new. In other ways it sucks because you could never see all that you want to. I have made this pledge to myself though: I am going to watch Hetalia this weekend, because I am pretty sure I was the only one there that didn't know what it was. Get plenty of sleep!
I can't stress this enough. On the last night I probably got about 3 hours of sleep, and there aren't many things I have regretted more. Our artist P-Shinobi was smart about it, and got his 7+ hours. Thankfully he was there to pick up my slack 0:D. Working a busy artist alley table is hard work. Do not take it lightly. We would like to thank Nostalgia Conventions for throwing one bangin' con. We thought it was well-organized, and we cannot wait for next year. They were willing to give us a chance, and as a result, they are good in our book. We would also like to thank the celebrities (Vic Mignogna, Lisa Ortiz, Veronica Taylor, and Eric Stuart) for being super awesome! I mean, if they were any more awesome........man they were awesome. Last of all, we would like to thank everyone that attended the con, especially everyone that visited our table. Boomslank will be nowhere without its wonderful fans, and we are absolutely thrilled by the new friends we made over the weekend. We will be trying to make it to more cons, and will keep you posted. Till then..... See all the pictures from the convention on our Facebook page
If you were asked today, which is better, a hard work ethic or passion? What would your response be?
I am not going to assume your answer, but I'll tell you this, it was only this year that I understood the advantages of passion over a hard work ethic. Obviously, I needn't reiterate that a hard work ethic
is absolutely important in life. However when it comes to success passion is key.
If you plan to be successful at anything, you have to be passionate about whatever that thing is. Just working hard without passion will be an exercise in futility. Eventually you will give out... the human body can only take so much abuse.
Case in point, back in my undergrad years, my buddy and I decided to create a website that would allow students to trade used textbooks with other students, thereby avoiding reselling back to bookstores at a massive loss. The idea was pretty solid in my opinion. The fact that every student was aware that the bookstores were ripping them off, made a strong case for the need of our website. Anyway, being two inexperienced creatures, we decided to pick up PHP coding books and figure out what we needed to create a site of this nature. We managed to crank out a site in about a month or two. Then came the difficult part. Getting people to use the site. I gotta tell ya, marketing is really difficult. We had a hard time getting these skeptical students to join our site and list their used items for sales. We did manage to get some people using them. Only 400+ students out of 24,000 :( .
It became pretty obvious that coding the site wasn't going to be the most challenging stage of the pipeline. Unfortunately my buddy/partner in crime was starting to lose steam. I remember the exact words he used when he bailed out; "I feel like I am beating a dead horse. I am done with this crap. You can continue if you want. I am out. See ya.". I did the best I could on my own till I succumbed to the discouraging lack of progress in adoption.
Moral of that story is my friend and I lacked the passion for that project. We were both very hard workers that's for sure. We literally learned a new language just to create the site. However we were very interested in the superficial reward of the project. The lack of passion made us very vulnerable to the usual obstacles that one encounters when trying to start a modest venture.Strong cases for passion leading to success can be found in many success stories. Consider the clothing line Ugmonk by Jeff Sheldon. Jeff Sheldon, always had a love for typography and minimal design. Overtime what was more of an exercise in passion, gradually became a full-blown business. Now Ugmonk is a well-known clothing line that's has made cameos in shows and movies. Jeff's success was all based on his strong passion in typography. This passion definitely provided him with the stamina he needed to push past the inevitable obstacles that faces all startups.When someone is passionate about what they do, they do things without the notion of reward. They do it purely for the enjoyment. As a result, profit or no profit, they are happy. And that's really imperative. Hard workers will always do things with a linear attitude. Most hard workers will work under the philosophy that their hard work will be rewarded. Passionate people on the hand will engage in their passion because they already feel rewarded. Passionate people will always have a stronger fortitude for hardship since they are immune to the obstacles that will eventually conquer reward seeking hard workers. And this is why passionate people always make great entrepreneurs while hard workers make great employees.
Lets face it . Things are not moving at the pace I had imagined 6 months ago. And unfortunately this is a problem I have no control over. Our designs are done by one person. And each one from conception to materialization takes almost a month. Then there is the jarring process of synching up with the printers to make sure what we see is what we get. That part takes a whole day. Then the printing process itself that takes a good 3 weeks and some change. So all in all you are looking at almost 2 months for a design. Not the image of german like efficiency I had ignorantly anticipated.
Another issue which isn't as daunting but will be soon is funding. Boomslank consists of an entry-level software engineer in Cisco who has a mortgage and college tuitions to help pay for and a Walgreen employee. Between the two of us money is still a precious commodity. Currently the cost of production (price per shirt) is rather on the steep side. In order to reasonably increase our profit margin and attract more customers with better price points , we need to order in bulk. Which is quite unreasonable at the moment. We need every penny spread out of over multiple designs. And we can't attract more customers without a wider spread of designs. Yet we can't attract more customers without more affordable price points. Not to mention that as we order more shirts and sell at a slow pace we will eventually exhaust our reserves and will probably have to resolve to the unsavory act of opening up a line of credit and boring money from banks at highway robbery interest rates (Which by the way I have already done . :-( )
As of 12/16/2010 , we sold out on our promotional product Airport. Granted at $1 a pop these things were bound to fly off the shelves as people found out about them. Still I can't help but feel really happy that we were able to get them sold. In many ways it shows progress and the hope that our little establishment has potential. The picture above was today's morning run to the post office. 8-)
If there is one thing I know , is that reality can kill ambition. Or at the very least it can pose a potent threat to ambition.
Deciding to start this venture with my younger brother was something I thought I was aware of its challenges. Before taking action , all our plans sounded like a wonderful fantasy. Just rehearsing these plans was exciting and reassuring .
Plans like silk printing the shirt, the e-commerce site and the availability of capital were all made with the assumption that life is very straight forward. Of course not to mention our plans showed how little we knew about the t-shirt industry.
Not until one gets started do they realize how challenging things can get. Right from the very start we ran into a bunch of problems.
1)We found out silk printing had some major color limitations. Before that we thought it was similar to printing from an inkjet printer. And where we live no one dared go over 4 colors. We spent months calling around till we found some guys in Ohio would could silk print our shirts for 11 colors. Mind you this wasn't close to the number of colors we ignorantly dreamed of displaying, but we realized that we had to make a compromise. Needless to say that was the first of many compromises.
2) Funds were realistically low. Being an entry-level software engineer and my brother a cashier at Walgreen, we were pretty strapped for capital. And buying my house to claim the $8,000 tax credit meant that I would be paying mortgage, which meant my capital reserves would be quite low.
3) Trademark, Working e-commerce site , logistics (effective shipping and handling) . These were all really annoying issues.
4) Finally time. Being a rather impulsive and impatient person , I tend to find myself getting a little annoyed if I start falling behind a self-imposed schedule.
Anyway , when it is all said and done , I would like to think these obstacles or realities are great. I believe they serve as a filter for people who want to get into the T-shirt line business. If these issues weren't there , the reward from this venture would be diluted. I will admit that the T-shirt space is already crowded as it is. However since we are targeting a rather specific niche, making our brand stand out becomes easier.
In a couple of days, our site Boomslank.com will go live. We will be selling graphic tees adorned with original anime art. The idea came to us when we realized that your typical anime t-shirt is the usual Naruto , Bleach or even Dragon Ball Z heat pressed onto a run-of-the-mill t-shirt. There is also the fact that my younger brother, who is known as P-Shinobi on Flickr is a pretty decent artist. I have always loved his work and wished to see them on anything but the computer screen.
The image above is our first batch. It is called Airport. We plan on giving it away just to get some feedback. Is gonna be really exciting to see people ordering our shirts. Just knowing that someone expressed interest in your product is a great feeling! :-)
So, about a year ago when I entertained the idea for the business, I was really excited about how easy it was going to be to launch it. Given that I had no clue what it takes to start a T-shirt printing
business, I was overwhelmed with misplaced hope and enthusiasm. It was not until I started my Easter hunt for the tools, resources and services I need , did I realize that it was actually quite challenging. I say challenging as a relative problem of course. Remember I don't know the first thing about printing a T-shirt. All I have is an idea and substantial passion for the idea. The immediate challenge made me realize why not everyone was out there printing t-shirts. Anyway , for those of you who are considering starting a venture of this nature. Here are a couple of things to take into account.
1) Adding up all your cost of production.
You would be surprise what it takes to print these things. You need figure out how much it will cost to print the shirt, relabel the shirt (assuming you are shooting for the stars) .
In some cases the cost of the blank shirts. (That is if you have a specific taste in fabric)
2) Figure out how many colors you can pull off on the T-shirt. HEHEHE this one got me. I was under the impression , there was no limit to colors when it came to screen printing.
I was dead wrong. Could be the town I live in, but there is a shortage of screen printing services out there willing to print shirts with what I consider to be a decent number of colors.
You are either going to search really hard and even have to fly out or come to a compromise.
3) Shipping and handling
Tough one in my opinion. All I can say about this one is to take a look at howtostartaclothingcompany.com . The person that wrote this , practically answered a ton of the questions I had.