October 24, 2008

We interview Ben of Fright-Rags.

TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?

FR: I’ve always been into weird shirts, I guess. For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed wearing something that would get a reaction out of whoever saw it. However, I never considered making them myself until I took a screenprinting class in college and thought it was pretty cool…but it would still be a couple of years before I tried it out as a business. It wasn’t until I was messing around on my computer at work when i thought some of my horror designs would look cool on a shirt. I showed some people on a horror forum I was a part of and the response was great. So then I decided to give it a try and make some up to sell.

TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?

FR: I’ve been doing this now for just over 5 years. To describe what I’ve learned during that time would take days. It’s been everything from how to set up a website, designing with the screenprinting process in mind, how to get traffic, how to convert leads to sales, and most importantly, how to treat customers. It’s never ending and I’m always learning more, which is exciting to me. It’s all about refining all the aspects of the business, coming up with new ideas, and testing things out. And I enjoy every minute of it.

TM: At what point did you realize that your company was really “taking off”? What was the turning point in your business?

FR: It’s hard to point to one thing, as it has really built up organically over time. However, there have been a few instances that really stand out to me. For one thing, people emailing me saying that they’ve seen my shirt somewhere…sometimes on tv, or at a concert. That is always cool to hear. And when I was able to sell a few of my designs in Hot Topic, that was definitely a point where I started to think that the business was going somewhere.

TM: You must love horror movies! What’s your top 3?

FR: I definitely love horror films. My top three favorites are Halloween, Night of the Living Dead, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

TM: Are most of your t-shirt designs actual movies?

FR: Yeah, all of our designs are based off a movie one way or another. It could be the poster art, a scene, or even just a quote. They all reference movies in some way.

TM: You’ve got some of the coolest horror t-shirts I’ve ever seen. Which one is your favorite?

FR: Thanks! Wow, that is a really hard question as I love them all… I would have to say it’s the WWJD? shirt because it’s the first design I ever came up with. It’s the one that I looked back and said “That might make a cool shirt!”…and it’s the only one from my original line-up left on the site.

TM: Do you do host or attend any promo events for your clothing line?

FR: I do attend horror conventions each year. I mostly go to Monster-Mania in New Jersey three times a year, but I try to make it to a few others when I can.

TM: What’s in the works for the future of your label?

FR: We always have lots of ideas in the works. Along with more designs, I am looking to do some more limited edition shirts that feature different styles of printing (i.e. all-over print, discharge, etc). I’ve also just landed a license to one of my favorite movies of all time (I’ll let you guess from the three above) so I’m really excited to finally be able to do some designs for it…look for them to launch early next year!

TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?

FR: I think the main thing is to find your niche. Don’t put out what you think people want to buy…find out what they want to buy and put it out. Talk to your customers, and listen to them…they are the most important part of your business.Too many so-called “brands” out there think they can get by just by throwing up some designs and calling themselves a “company”. Have a story…people by products from people, not companies. Last, but not least…It takes time to develop a business…lots of time… Every week for the first year or so I was ready to give it all up. Then another order would come in and I would decide to keep it going. And now I’m doing this full-time. If I can do it, so can you.

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