TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?
PB: It was a natural progression, Chris and I learned how to make shirts when we were in high school and never really stopped. While in college Chris was always hand painting his new designs onto screens to make his own t-shirts. Over time he went from making just a handful of shirts to printing as many as he could afford to ensure that everyone he knew would get one. He was already making them for himself and friends so why not see if the rest of the world wanted them?
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?
PB: The Company started in 2002, so that is 6 years…wow. We have definitely learned a lot, it was just a couple years ago that we were printing all of the shirts on our own, we learned how to lie to wholesalers to get bulk rates, the science of building a makeshift setup to create the screens and the basic techniques of shirt printing, which always seemed to take place in either a freezing cold garage in the middle of the winter or outside in the sweltering heat during the middle of the summer. The whole process of actually making shirts has taught us so much on a technical level, which we can still apply today when working with printers and vendors. It has also made me really thankful that we don’t print shirts on our own anymore!
TM: Do your run your label alone or do you have a team?
PB: The team includes Chris Piascik, Vaughn Fender, and myself Jamie Murrett. We all attended the University of Hartford together. Chris and Vaughn were design students in the art school and I was a few years ahead of them majoring in entrepreneurial studies in the business school. Chris and Vaughn started up the company while they were still in school and I joined the ranks a couple years later.
TM: I know you love all of your shirts, but which one is your ‘favorite-favorite‘?
PB: My favorite shirt is currently the Fame, Fame, Fatal Fame shirt. One night I asked Chris if he would draw it out for me so that I could make a stencil and spray paint it on a shirt. He asked, “why don’t we just make it into a design for the new line?” The next morning I was blown away when I saw what he came up with. When the shirts were printed and I saw the finished product I was even more excited, they just look so good. It came out a million times better then it would have if I had tried to spray paint it on a shirt with cutout cardboard stencil.
TM: There a lot of new clothing line owners that are trying to get their products in stores. Briefly explain how you were able to get your t-shirts sold in retail stores.
PB: We haven’t really put much focus or energy into having our products sold in stores; the stores that we are currently being sold in are a result of networking and friendships. However, one store that was different for us was Horror Business located in Boston, MA. I was helping Chris look for an apartment before he moved to Boston a little over 2-years ago and we got lost looking for the real estate office. We ended up passing this store called Horror Business that was decorated in the Misfits green and purple colors. Our jaws dropped as we drove by but unfortunately we couldn’t stop to check it out. As soon as Chris moved and got settled in he contacted the shop owner and he was more then happy to start selling our Tribute to Danzig and Horror Biz shirts in the store. I think that would be a prime example of finding the proper outlet for your product. We plan on doing a larger push towards retail in the future but the time isn’t right for us at the moment. We are happy with the stores we currently have selling our products along with our own efforts through our online store.
TM: What would you say your niche is and what has been your best marketing vehicle in targeting that audience?
PB: That’s a tough question, right now we are marketing to the hustlers, bike lovers, Smiths fans, and some other random weirdos, haha, so there are a couple of niche markets that we are tapping into. Our best marketing vehicle has really become our customers. I like to think that our new designs speak for themselves (some literally). They give people a way to express themselves and tell others about themselves without having to say anything; they are like silent conversation starters. A lot of our sales come from referrals of people who have purchased from us. We are always getting messages from people letting us know that they saw someone else wearing one of our designs and had to ask them where they got it. We’re really grateful for that, it is such a good feeling to know that our customers are the reason for our growth and success.
TM: What’s in store for the future of Print Brigade?
PB: Well we just launched our new line of shirts along with a new website to showcase them. So we will be focused on selling those for the Holiday Season. We are also gearing up to start planning our trip to the Bitter Cold Showdown in February. The BCSD is the largest rollerblading competition and trade-show in the country. This will be our third year attending the trade-show and we plan on making a brand new, limited edition I Still Rollerblade t-shirt specifically for the event. Besides that we just want to keep moving forward with larger print runs, new designs and more color options. We are at a place where we are happy with everything that he have going for us and want to focus on staying on this path.
TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
PB: Make and design t-shirts that you want to wear, if other people are into it then that’s awesome, but its so much more fun when you are doing it for yourself. And show your appreciation for your customers and people you do business with however you can. If take good care of them, they will take care of you.
For more info on Print Brigade, check ’em out at PrintBrigade.com.