Kiss me, I'm a Successful Teespringer
Everyone’s heard the expression “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” at some point in their lives. But not everyone has the fightin’ spirit to turn the expression into a lucrative livelihood.
This past January, Mark L., an online marketer at a Bay Area technology startup, decided to try launching a Teespring campaign to make some extra money and hone his business skills. He quickly saw an opportunity to scale his early successes into a bigger operation, so he tapped his friends Phil, Blake and Charlie to help out churn out a series of themed “Kiss Me, I’m _________” shirts.
Ten months later, Mark & Co.’s bustling business — now collectively known as Dempto Clothing — has earned a 600% return on their campaigns and sold over 40,000 t-shirts. “That’s the equivalent of if everyone in Oracle Arena bought one of our shirts — twice,” says Phil. The team has since used the capital to start their own investment fund and look into real estate deals.
They’ve also learned key lessons they could apply back to their day jobs. “Thanks to Teespring, I’ve learned that focusing on super specific audiences helps improve our metrics,” says Mark.
How Did They do It?
Dempto attributes their company’s success to several factors.
First, once the group realized they had stumbled upon a successful theme for a t-shirt series, they moved quickly to capitalize on it. “Once you find a niche that customers are crazy for, you have to go all in,” says Blake. “Kill your other tests and use the knowledge from your previous failed campaigns to maximize what you know works.”
Secondly, the guys took a very targeted approach to advertising their product. To hit their sweet spot, they placed extremely targeted ads on Facebook, serving ads to individuals based on a combination of their college majors, occupations, ages, interests and familial relationships. They also reached out to family, friends and co-workers on social media platforms and developed an online community around their brand.
Third, because selling their shirts on Teespring was a secondary job, the guys blocked off specific time periods where they could work on their shirts without interruption. During these ‘hack-ations,’ Phil would organize his friends into a human assembly line, whereby one person would work on the actual t-shirt designs on Photoshop while another would do the targeting for ads. This method of creating a continuous flow of work netted the team 40 campaigns in one weekend and over $40,000 in sales.
After the initial success of their “Kiss Me” line, the Dempto team expanded their design line to also include “Trust Me, I’m A ___________” series of shirts and a variety of themes. Now, their volume is such that that they’ve had to mainstream their business. With the help of Phil and Blake’s father, a lawyer, the company has incorporated (for tax purposes) and the original team has begun delegating work to freelancers through the service oDesk. As sales continue to skyrocket, the team has also launched an affiliates program, where they supply designs to other printers for a fee, and hired an accountant to keep track of their books.
Adopting a "Teespring Lifestyle"
The success of Dempto has allowed the core team to drastically change their lifestyles with comparatively minimal effort. In the last few months, Blake and Charlie quit their day jobs to find a more fulfilling career and study for the LSATs, respectively. Mark was able to quickly find and move into a new apartment after his old apartment was robbed; and Phil applied his Teespring learnings to his existing job, to better position himself for a promotion.
“Our success provides crazy leverage,” says Blake, who also worked in a trip to Thailand earlier this year (paid for by Teespring earnings, of course.) “Because Teespring gives me an extra, steady source of income, I can now take the time to find the perfect job for me and negotiate a better salary and other perks, like working more from home.”
“It’s truly a job that you can do from anywhere, and still be a huge success.”