July 18, 2008
We interview Michael D’Elena, owner of Reckless Tees.
TM: When did you decide that t-shirts was your thing?
MD: I had a very boring desk job in college and during the summer time I had very little work to do, if any. One day I was surfing the net and came across a funny T-shirt site. At that very moment I randomly decided I thought it would be fun to start my own T-shirt biz and started coming up with ideas. A couple weeks later, I had 50+ good ideas (most of which I didn’t end up using) and a month later I incorporated.
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz? And what have you learned?
MD: I’ve been in the t-shirt business about 2 years and have learned many things. 1) Every question answered leaves you with 3 more, kind of like an episode of Lost. 2) Track your money for advertising/marketing carefully and make sure your ROI is good or drop that campaign. 3) Have fun with your business. If you are always stressed out you don’t see good opportunities and life sucks. 4) Coming up with good ideas requires a lot more work than someone would think.
TM: Which of your t-shirts is your favorite?
MD: Definitely the Mouse having sex with a dead mouse.
TM: Do your run your label alone or do you have a team?
MD: Kind of both. I am the sole owner of the company, but I have many friends who help me with the day to day stuff.
TM: Why did you create a t-shirt rating system for your t-shirts?
MD: We did this because people buy certain shirts for certain reasons. Some want to shock random people, some just want to make people laugh, others want to offend. The rating system gives the customer a quick reference to what “type” of shirt he/she is looking at based on our experience.
TM: What would you say your niche is and what has been your best marketing vehicle in targeting that audience?
MD: We have a couple different levels of niches actually. We first aim at the college crowd, specifically people who like offensive shirts, but most our shirts have their own smaller niches. We really try to capitalize on this more than anything.
TM: What’s in the works for the future of Reckless Tees?
MD: Within the next couple of months we finally plan on expanding our line by adding a good amount of our T-shirts in women’s styles/sizes. Starting next week we will also be selling our shirts at a local music venue, The Club House, in Tempe, AZ on a regular basis. We have a couple other new things coming too but we don’t want to get into details quite yet.
TM: What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
MD: Research first, and then do more research, then research again, and about each aspect of your idea/business. Find a good niche, not too crowded with competition, but still a good amount. Research again. Give the customer exactly what they want in the way that they want it. And don’t grow too fast. If you have no liquidity, you may not be able to act when you need to.
For more info, go to RecklessTs.com