March 21, 2009
By Moustapha Camara
Coty Gonzales, owner of t-shirt blog, CotyGonzales.com, has been interviewing many brands featured on T-Shirt Magazine lately. You can check out his interviews in the Spotlight section of T-Shirt Magazine. Coty has been a great contributor to T-Shirt Magazine since the beginning of 2009. Now, with this issue being T-Shirt Magazine’s anniversary, we decide to interview Coty.
CG: Well, I’ve always been a fan of the t-shirt. They’re soft, comfy and they allow you to express yourself. The idea of starting a t-shirt focused blog came about last summer when a couple of friends and I were hanging out at the beach. It all of a sudden became an impromptu brainstorming session for topics of possible video podcasts that I could maybe do for my website. The topic of t-shirts soon came about, and I ran with it.
TM: So, how did you come up with the name, Coty Gonz…just kidding, lol. Why did you decide to name your t-shirt blog after your own name, instead of giving it a different name?
CG: The funny thing is, the site was never intended initially to be a tee focused blog. I had intended it to be more of a lifestream sort of site, more of a personal blog, and so the name made sense. Then I started following the things that Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV was doing with personal branding and said to myself – I can do that! And so I found a niche that I was passionate about and have been pumping out quality content (at least I think so) ever since.
TM: Out of all of the t-shirt contest sites out there, what’s your favorite?
CG: I’ve always been a big fan of Threadless. Even before I started cotygonzales.com, I owned a ton of Threadless tees. The reason why I love them is because they are such a great, community focused brand. Everything about Threadless is based around their t-shirt loving community. And, I dig that they embrace social media, like Facebook, Vimeo and Twitter. What they did a few weeks ago, giving away thousands of dollars worth of tees on Twitter, was amazing to me. They really get it when it comes to utilizing the web and social media. And let’s not forget, they print out amazing tees on a weekly basis. Content is king and they pump amazing content every week.
TM: What’s the best part about blogging?
CG: Making connections and meeting some damn interesting people. The free tees that I get to do reviews on is just the icing on the cake ;-)
TM: What challenges do you face as a t-shirt blogger? How do overcome these challenges?
CG: To me content is king, so the main challenge is to constantly have a steady flow of content on my site on a daily basis so that people have something fresh to read. And I think I’ve done a great job at doing that so far. One of the things that I do, to make sure that I always have something to write about, is that I keep a little notebook of “ideas”. These topics for “rainy days”, as I like to call them, help me out whenever it’s a slow news day.
Because there are a handful of t-shirt blogs around, you might find that many of them write about many of the same things. This happens because many brands mass email these blogs (mine included) and so what ends up happening is that you get the same stories on different blogs on the same day. And so to make sure I stood out from the crowd, I made sure that I did things a little different. I didn’t want to be just another t-shirt review blog. This is why I incorporated video components like Co-Tee TV and Coty Loves Threadless to my blog and why I often have weekly interviews (Indie Tee Spotlight), articles on marketing, branding and utilizing social media and social networks.
TM: What do you like best about living in Hawaii? What are your favorite things to do in the Aloha state?
CG: Best thing about Hawaii has got to be 1.) The year round awesome summer weather and the great beaches, and 2.) The people. The Hawaii people are generally an easy going and have a happy-go-lucky attitude (we call it the Aloha Spirit). You’ll hardly ever here a car horn while driving around town, instead you see people giving the shaka and actually letting put cut them off. In any other state, that would result in a beep and a middle finger.
Favorite things to do in Hawaii include, going to the beach of course! And, I like to go hiking – Hawaii has some awesome hiking spots. I also enjoying eating out! There are so many great restaurants in Hawaii and we have a great collection of unique foods because the state is made up of so many different cultures. Eating is a lot of fun here!
The one thing that I wish we did have, and am kind of envious that we [Hawaii] don’t have it, is a professional sports team. I love sports! And so whenever I’m on the mainland I always make it a point to catch a game (any sport will do, but it has to be a pro sport).
TM: What tips can you give to clothing brands out there who are looking to get exposure and make their brand known?
CG: The Internet is an amazing tool. You’ve got learn to leverage it the best you can based on your brands niche. You’ve got to make sure that you get the word out about your brand as much as you can. Make a list of blogs within your niche and become friends with those blogs. Take advantage of social networks, not just one, but as much as you can. Embrace social media because that’s were it’s at.
TM: Where does Coty Gonzales see himself in 5 years?
CG: I should be finishing up my Ph.D. within a year or so. And so within two years I can see myself as a post-doc working in some lab, somewhere (don’t know where just yet) and doing some University level lecturing. And in 5 years, I hope to be a full-time University professor, teaching, mentoring and doing lots of cool cutting edge research! And maybe I’ll have a kid-o of my own that I can dress up in some cool onesies!