Welcome to the latest Geek Shirts HQ T Shirt Brand Undressed Interview.
We have scoured the known universe, looked in those little ponds that are left when the tide goes out and even looked in that cupboard under the stairs which used to be Harry Potters bedroom to find the best t shirt brands that we can interview.
Today we have a premier t shirt brand, which during its short existence has made a name for itself in the world of daily/weekly t shirt sites for quality tees and awesome designs.
Geek Shirts HQ Welcomes Gimmick Tees……………The Latest Brand To Get Undressed.
Who are the people behind Gimmick Tees you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from? Why did you start a daily/weekly tee site instead of a ‘regular’ t-shirt brand?
Some background on me, I am the rare and elusive native Floridian still living in Fort Lauderdale. I graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design way back in 1994 with a degree in Illustration.
I've travelled a strange road leading to Gimmick Tees. I've paid my bills with varying degrees of success over the last 20 years dabbling in many varied forms of employment including working at several comic book stores, doing abstract paintings for a wholesale art and framing gallery, and impersonating an "installation technician" for a friend's high end home theatre store.
I even once spent several years travelling the southeast acquiring/selling thousands upon thousands of signed pro-wrestling photos online during the combined height of both wrestling and eBay as my only source of income.
I have a website where people can see some of my drawings/paintings at www.bentemples.com …And I am considering making some time to start taking a few commissions again (cheap plug).
I just haven't had the time to do much in the last year while keeping this Gimmick Tees ship afloat and on-course. In fact, after 10 months of doing this, I have yet to have the time to create one t-shirt design yet for my own company! The closest I have come is having a few other artists execute one or two of my ideas.
I'm not sure if this will inspire confidence or dread in my customers, but Gimmick Tees is primarily just me. I kind of handle the majority of the heavy lifting, talking to artists and finding designs, dealing with my screen printer and picking up orders, customer service, updating and designing the website and graphics, promoting the weekly design, all the social media stuff, etc.
We do the pizza and beer get-togethers with friends when it’s time to fold, pack, and ship orders…but right now, on most days, I'm kind of a one-man band. It sounds a little weird to even say it, but this company isn't even a year old still and I'm just hustling as best as I can.
Georgia's Finest Walker Walking Service T-Shirt
Walking Dead inspired T-Shirt
I also devote my time to running a wrestling promotion called FSCW (Florida Super Championship Wrestling) which has a Facebook page that people can try and find (cheap plug #2).
It’s off the wall awesome and quirky, and we ironically perform in front of by far the largest crowds for independent wrestling in the state of Florida. Its very niche to the comic book convention crowd but the crowds are rabid and our July 4th weekend shows are going to be insane.
It was really simple as to why I chose to go the weekly route over being a "regular" t-shirt brand. I was broke. That's really it. I knew that I didn't have the resources to print up and sit on a stock of shirts and then slowly attempt to sell them online, at shows, and to retail stores. The weekly limited edition model allows for me to wait to fulfil my orders AFTER the deadline for ordering has expired.
Everything is essentially pre-paid, and I don't have to lay out money on product hoping that I will eventually sell it. I also had a lot of support with FSC (Florida Supercon) in the early days with access to their customer base of comic convention attendees in soliciting my shirts which helped me avoid large expenditures in advertising during those first few weeks…yeah, I knew people, and had access to a relevant customer base that helped me get this whole shebang started.
Serenity Valley T-Shirt
Firefly/Serenity-inspired Limited Edition T-shirt
Where did you get the name Gimmick Tees?
The company was originally called FSC Tees but I decided that a re-branding was a wise idea after only a few months. My best friend Mike owns and operates Florida Supercon and there was originally going to be a cross-promotional branding Idon'tknowwhatyoucallit. It ended up not being our greatest idea and people outside of south Florida just didn't know or care what FSC stood for. Also, people thought that he was part of the shirt company, and it became a whole mix-up where people were contacting him with FSC Tees questions.
I work for FSC but they have no ownership or involvement with the t-shirt company, and he doesn't make a cent from the sales of the shirts, so I can understand the confusion when we were calling it FSC Tees. The idea originally was that he was doing me a huge solid by giving me "the rub" from his following, fan base, access, and reputation in sharing his branding which allowed me to operate with little to no funding in the early days.
Since we were dealing in the same geeky/nerdy world, it made sense and I'll always appreciate his generosity and help that he provided and still does. The term "gimmick" is used in pro-wrestling vernacular, and can actually be used in a variety of ways in those circles. I'm just a big mark for wrestling.
A mashup of the iconic classic video arcade game PAC-MAN with Doctor Who
Can you tell me more about the brand Gimmick Tees?
We do a limited edition T-shirt every week.
The designs generally fall within the geek/nerd culture, comics, gaming, anime, sci-fi and fantasy TV, movies, etc. We are very similar to many of other sites in this regard with lots of mash-ups and parodies.
What makes Gimmick Tees different from other similar daily/weekly tee shirt sites? What is your USP?
I am trying to work on being different whenever the opportunity permits. I will run a clever pro-wrestling design every now and then and I have tried to get a few new and original designs by collaborating with artists on one or two of my own ideas.
I know a lot of great and talented artists that I went to school with and I also know A LOT of comic book artists through my involvement with Florida Supercon. It just hasn't worked out yet where anything has been printed from either of these resource pools. I think that it is just really unfair for me to ask friends to do work for me and then say that it’s not going to work, or I can't use it. And even worse, that I can't pay you for any time that you've invested in these busted ideas.
I have been toying with the idea of working with one of my friends who now teaches at RISD to have a contest as one of their assignments for his class where the winner(s) have their work printed and they get a payday. It might be a great way to get a few bright and talented young artists to inject some new work into a scene where I see a lot of the same artists getting design after design after design printed by multiple shirt-a-day sites. Good for them in creating a career for themselves and becoming rock stars in the t-shirt design scene, but I'd rather go another route than playing follow the leader all the time.
Masters of the Universe NES 8-bit video game inspired t-shirt
How does a designer get to feature their design on your site?
Fairly simple, there is a submit link on the website. But it just says that they can email their designs to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, so I'll say it here too. When I see something I like, I will contact the artist and assign a week for their design to run if they are still interested in doing business.
Who are your favourite designers that have been featured on your site?
Most everyone I have worked with (with one or two exceptions) have been a pleasure. I've worked with several of my artists two or three times, and I've also done collaborations involving some of my own ideas. I even just contacted an artist who we have printed before to help design some wrestling title belts for our July shows.
There are a few artists out there that I would like to work with where if the situation was right, it obviously would only be a good thing for Gimmick Tees. It makes me be more resourceful not having it, but it would be nice to get a design from an artist with a huge loyal following every now and then.
As a brand how much importance to you put on marketing on social media sites such as Twitter or Facebook?
It’s pretty important as a new site with limited resources to be able to grind out sales every day with these internet tools. Although, I believe overusing any of them can cost you followers and future customers.
Mega Powers T-Shirt
A mashup parody design incorporating the video game character Mega Man and the "Mega Powers" 1988 tag team of Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage
What’s coming next for Gimmick Tees?
We just changed shirt brands from Gildan to Next Level. The new shirts are much softer, nicer, lighter fitted 100% spun cotton shirts.
We have also added some options with the ladies tops including v and scoop necks and tank tops with potentially more options to be offered in the next few weeks. I hope to have some new and unique designs to help us stand out from the rapidly growing shirt-a-day/week community of sites.
Some ideas that I've had have already been mentioned above, and others I am keeping closer to the vest for now. But I can say for a certainty that we will have one full year of just Firefly designs all printed on poop brown tees, all of which include at a minimum a representation of the spaceship on them with a slogan or quote from the show…I kid, I kid.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years both for yourselves and your business?
Ideally, with a thriving business that has adapted with the times with a competent staff who can handle things while I am painting naked women on 10 foot tall canvasses and pretending to be the Vince McMahon of FSCW! But seriously, I sincerely doubt that the tee scene will resemble anything we know of it today. 10 years is a long time and I am sure the motto adapt or die will definitely apply.
Breakfast Cereal Feast
When getting your apparel printed what is the process that you prefer?
I am only familiar with screen-printing. I am lucky to have a loyal, hardworking guy who has been great to work with. The only problem with him is that he's a Jets fan.
What brands of apparel do you prefer to print on?
We are trying to keep things reasonable and affordable so we have worked with Gildan which is a heavy durable tee, but I really like the Next Level shirts we are now using, and I am able to keep the base price the same at a minimal additional expense to me. Living in Florida, I prefer to wear a softer, lightweight shirt, and I think the inks seem to screen on these slightly better than they did on the Gildan tees.
What would a customer expect when ordering a product from yourselves?
A customer should always expect a pleasant experience and my best effort in providing them with a great shirt done properly and shipped in a timely fashion…It’s a generic answer, and I'm not going to say that the customer is always right, but they should expect the same experience that they would have dealing with any of the other shirt sites.
T-Shirt inspired by the hit TV show GRIMM
What happens after a customer places an order? When will they receive their tee?
We are a print-to-order model. This means that when we offer a design for sale, we don't actually have the shirts on-hand yet to ship to you. What happens is that when the deadline for orders has expired on Sunday midnight (pacific time) and I know exactly how many that I need printed four each size and style, I then place an order with my screen printer at the beginning of the week. Generally he has them done by the weekend, and then I will then ship them out ASAP the next Monday or Tuesday.
Since we take orders for one full week, unfortunately those customers who place an early order on Monday will obviously be waiting longer than customers ordering later that week like on Sunday night. There's not a lot that I can do about this other than explain the process to those who ask about their orders and everyone has always been cool with this once they understand how the process works.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
There’s too many people to mention them all but here are a few of our supporters,
Future of Wrestling
Future of Wrestling
Is there anything else you want to add?
Not really, I'm always available to answer any questions anyone has or any follow-up questions you might have for this Q&A.
Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you?
Any of these links will get the job done. I'm not a big fan of twitter, but they are all effective ways to find out about the current week's design or for contacting me, and you can buy the shirts on the website. I encourage everyone to like, follow, share, RT, etc. OH! And join the mailing list on the website!!! doooo it!