Cat in the house? I said yeah, there's a cat in the house!
Site progress update. The site has been moving along and things are going pretty well. It’s been three months now and I’ve made over 75 shirt sales, shipping to 19 states and Canada. It’s encouraging to see a good amount of sales coming in considering there hasn’t been a whole lot of resources put into marketing and advertising at this point. Most of my time has been spent designing the new shirts and images for the site and getting the orders printed and shipped as well as the various administrational duties that come up, but I’ve done a little experimenting with a few marketing channels. I’m glad to say I’ve been able to continue releasing two new shirt designs a week, including a slew of quote shirts as well as a bunch more additions to the “Breathe If You Hate” college rivalry series. Those include Auburn/Alabama, Purdue/Indiana, Texas/Oklahoma, Cal/Stanford, USC/UCLA, Missouri/Kansas and Harvard/Yale. Some of the highlights in the quotes department:
The main marketing channels I’ve been working with have been Google AdWords, facebook ads, and StumbleUpon. It’s been interesting to see the trends that happen and the way traffic can move from one day to the next (and from one hour to the next, one country to the next, browser, operating system, screen resolution…) depending on a specific word here or there. Most of the time the numbers change by small amounts, but a few times I’ve had huge jumps in traffic, especially with StumbleUpon’s Paid Discovery. I have a few things in the works for getting the word out in different ways, and am really looking forward to making those come to life and seeing what happens. It’s going to be spending time on those plus continuing to tweak my existing marketing and advertising that will be hugely important in the next few months. Stay tuned.
Elsewhere. Jordan Crawford thinks he’s better than MJ. TrueHoop’s Henry Abbott with a great piece on the state of the NBA lockout. Can’t get enough of Jordan brand’s “Love the Game No Matter What” ad. Brian Kelly continuing to make a fool of himself, this time blaming ND’s struggles on players he didn’t recruit. If you haven’t seen Tebowing.com yet, check it out immediately. Every Day Should Be Saturday with a hilarious post about the Florida/Georgia game and Jacksonville. The main site from Field of Dreams has been sold and will be developed into a baseball and softball complex.
When I first started designing t-shirts and grazing the market for what was going on in the industry, the one site that jumped out at me the most was undoubtedly Ugmonk. I was immediately impressed with designer and founder Jeff Sheldon’s gorgeous typography and the simplicity shown in his impeccable designs.
Reading the history of the company gave me a general feel of where I’d like Off the Chest to be in the future, so I’ve felt a kind of connection to this brand ever since I first came across it (I’m sure plenty of t-shirt companies feel this way). Even though their shirts clearly have nothing to do with sports, it’s an easy company to identify with and admire. From its humble beginnings a few years back, to having their shirts seen on TV and being featured in magazines and the sales that seem to be going through the roof, it’s good to see Ugmonk doing well. Jeff has accomplished a ton in three years. It’s nice to see a company that puts design first achieve that kind of success! The site itself is very well-designed (especially the About section), the photography is great and it all just gives off the feeling of a brand I want to be a part of. Ugmonk’s blog is always fun to read and see the details of Jeff’s sketches and the origins of his designs, as well as keeping up on the company’s progress. I just got my first Ugmonk purchase (“Cubed“) in the mail and I love it. The tees look and feel just as great as you’d think when you look on the site. Their prints and leather journals are amazing too.
This is a company I’m consistently impressed with and will continue to keep tabs on. Head over and check them out, you’ll be glad you did. Congrats to Ugmonk on their third anniversary and I wish them continued success!
Bad news. Unfortunately I can now confirm a change on the website from a couple weeks back: both the Athletes in Space and Shoelace Pose shirts have been removed from the product line and are no longer available for purchase. These were two of the first 3 or 4 designs and helped spawn the idea of Off the Chest from the very beginning, about a year ago, so it’s really tough to have to put them away.
As many of you may have guessed, it was brought to my attention by certain authorities that these designs were in violation of NCAA rules… specifically using the likeness of current student-athletes on for-sale apparel. When I was told that the use of these likenesses had the potential to jeopardize the eligibility of the student-athletes and asked to remove them from my site, the choice was unfortunately simple. It killed me to take those two shirts down given not only how important they were to the start of the company, but also because they had both been selling well. I guess the fact that this happened so quickly could be viewed as a good thing, since the products were catching eyes far enough away for this to happen. But, having to remove shirts that customers like is never a good thing, especially when they’re personal favorites. But the reality is that NCAA rules are not ones that I’d like to breaking at this stage in the game so that’s just the way it has to be.
Thanks to everyone who has bought these shirts! Hopefully some of the new releases that have come out so far, and some that are still to come, can start to fill that void. For now, RIP, Athletes in Space and Shoelace Pose.
We’re now two weeks into the site’s existence, and there’s plenty to be excited about. Twenty-seven shirts have been ordered, and there’s some great word-of-mouth momentum happening from friends and family. I’ve been busy fulfilling the orders, spreading the word and making some small tweaks to the site. I’m optimistic about the upcoming football season and getting my shirts out into the public, plus the new products that are releasing each week. I got my trial order of business cards from the good folks at MOO, and absolutely loved them (look at that subtle, off-white coloring…the tasteful thickness of it…). I’ve ordered my first official batch and should have those in a couple days. And per a couple requests, I’m working on setting up tank tops to be printed on for any shirt design… more to come on that in the next week or so.
One big thing that happened was that the site was tweeted about by none other than Bill Wennington, who played in the NBA for 13 years, including of course, at center for the Bulls during their second three-peat from ’96 to ’98. (No reader of this blog needs any reminders, but it never hurts to re-watch a clip like this or this.) I was playing basketball the other night, and one guy I was playing with knows Bill well from working with the Bulls. Bill stopped by the gym and our mutual friend mentioned Off the Chest to him, and he thought the site was cool and went ahead and tweeted about it to all 5,275-ish of his followers. That was prettay, prett-ay good. He is an extremely nice guy and sat with me asking about the site for a good 15 minutes. I really appreciated his tweeting the site and showing such genuine interest in the company, especially since I had never met him. Give Bill a follow at @34billy42.
The first few new releases have come out too. I started with the signature line from Bobby Knight’s top-notch retirement speech from 2000 in Bloomington, Indiana, and T.O.’s classic, “Getcha popcorn ready.” This week, I started expanding the “Breathe If You Hate” concept to different rivalries, beginning with Florida-Georgia (here’s a good reason to start with this game). More to come in that department. As usual, stay tuned to the Facebook page and my twitter feed (@offthechestshop) for new product releases – two each week, on Monday mornings.
Elsewhere. Sorry Bro: Sports Through Houser with a good look at The Case of LeBron’s Akron shirt. Deadspin with a great Lollapalooza edition of Look At This Fucking Hoopster. Mike Gundy, crushing it again by apparently firing a construction worker at his home for wearing an Oklahoma t-shirt (via Every Day Should Be Saturday). Hardwood Paroxysm with a quality video of Dennis Rodman singing Pearl Jam’s “Alive.”
We’re closing in on the first 48 hours of http://www.offthechestshop.com being launched, and things are going really well. I’ve gotten 12 orders so far and cracked the 100 Like barrier on the Facebook page yesterday. Thanks to all of you who have Liked the page! I’m lucky to have a lot of good people in my life. I’ve received a lot of great feedback via email, Twitter and Facebook from people who have said they’ve passed on the site to their friends, as well as a lot of great suggestions for shirt ideas. I love that people have so many different quotes and ideas for shirts that fit the Off the Chest brand, and definitely want to make those happen. Speaking of which, I’m increasing the number of new shirts per week for the first few months from one to two, so keep an eye out for two new shirt designs at the beginning of every week – should be Sunday nights or Monday mornings when they’re up on the site and ready to be ordered, beginning this coming Sunday/Monday.
Yesterday a friend pointed me to a cool blog he reads called You Have Broken the Internet that was showing an image of my Breathe If You Hate Ohio State t-shirt. It was really awesome to see one of my designs being talked about on another site for the first time. The tumblr community is great and I’ll be putting more resources toward that in the near future. In the meantime, the first 12 orders will be printed and then shipped out in the next couple days. It’s been a busy first 2 days so thanks to everyone who helped get the launch off the ground!
Welcome to the blog of Off the Chest Inc.! It’s taken about a year to get offthechestshop.com launched, so it’s great to see it go live. The first few shirts were for Michigan football fans, and I originally hoped to have a website up in time for the 2010 football season. But I decided to take the concept further and make shirts celebrating the ridiculous sports quotes that I’ve always loved. Like the repeated disgust in Allen Iverson’s voice in his unforgettable “We talkin’ ’bout practice” rant, the high-pitched squeal of Jim Mora’s famed “Playoffs?” press conference, and the rawness of Randy Moss’s “Straight cash, homey” parking lot interview. Turn on SportsCenter, Pardon the Interruption or any of the countless sports talk shows and there’s a good chance you’ll hear one of these quotes by the first commercial break. What I’ve set out to do with Off the Chest is create a place that remembers them in the form of fresh, well-designed apparel.
It took a while to find the right printer in Chicago, and that was just the beginning of realizing all the different pieces that I would need to take care of before having the website ready. Designing the look and feel of the site and making all the little tweaks to it, the legal aspects, designing all the shirts and testing the colors, the photo shoots, the social media… it seemed endless for a while. But piece by piece it came together and is launching today. I could never have gotten this far without a great deal of help and support from a lot of family and friends, so a huge thank you goes out to everyone who’s helped me along the way. For the first couple months I’ll be releasing a new design every week, and announcing them on the Facebook page and on Twitter at @offthechestshop. So have a look around and please don’t hesitate to give me any feedback. Thanks for your visit!