The T-Shirt Production Innovators

In 2011, two Brown University seniors, Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton, were sad that their favorite bar in Providence, Rhode Island was closing. To commemorate the closing, the two friends decided to print T-shirts, but they were struck by the upfront costs, and the need to estimate how many of each size they would need to order. Williams built a website to take orders and measure demand, and also posted a link to the site on Facebook. By morning, hundreds of orders were received, along with a few e-mails requesting that he create similar websites for the T-shirt ideas of other people. The Aha Moment arrived for Williams, and he immediately knew that he had hit upon a commercially viable idea. The company Teespring soon followed.

Today Teespring is one of the top T-shirt vendors in the United States, and prints approximately 7 million shirts annually, with annual revenues estimated at $100 million. T-shirts have been shipped to more than eighty countries worldwide. The company has grown to over 300 employees. The business model is that individuals create Internet campaigns to sell custom T-shirts and related clothing on the Teespring website. Campaign creators are required to design and market the product themselves, but they are not required to invest money upfront, paying only when they have secured orders for their T-shirts.

Teespring’s role is to fulfill order for campaigns that have attained their sale goals, and then ships the T-shirts to the buyers. T-shirts are printed on demand, thereby avoiding the problem of inventory accumulation. Teespring does all the T-shirt manufacturing and shipping for the designer, whereas the designer creates the idea and helps market the T-shirt through social media and word-of-mouth. However, the company also contributes to advertising on Facebook.

Tools on the Teespring website enable the T-shirt designer to upload their ideas and slogans. The designers can select which quality and type of shirt (traditional hoodie, or tank top) they choose to print on, and many different fonts and icons are possible. The designer then chooses how many T-shirts he or she aspires to sell, and sets a sales goal. If a minimum of five T-shirts are preordered, Teespring produces the items and ships them directly to customers, charging the designed about $9 per T-shirt. The T-shirt designer sets the retail price per item.

The Teespring model has been so successful that the founders built a printing facility in Kentucky, where all the shirts can be produced and shipped efficiently. An example of a Teespring success story is restaurant manager Benny Hsu, who earned more than $120,000 in one year with a Tee-shirt bearing the slogan, “Keep calm and let the radiation therapist take care of it.”

Answer Questions in essay form:
1. In what way have the founders of Teespring demonstrated creative and innovative leadership?

2. In what way does Teespring provide its customers an opportunity to develop their creativity skills?

3. What is your evaluation of the prospects of Teespring being sustainable in the sense of lasting a long time as a business?

4. If you were required to come up with a T-shirt to sell through Teespring, what message would you place on the T-shirt?

Follow the Case Study Format that is provided in the file. You should fully analyze the case studies by first identifying the key issues and likely root causes before you attempt to answer the questions. The length of your post should range between 500 words minimum and 1,500 words maximum.

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