Welcome to the latest Geek Shirts HQ Brand Undressed interview.
This week we have a cool apparel brand that I first came across at Comic Con London.
A brand whose designs really impressed me and a brand that certainly was able to stand apart from the number of t shirt brands on the internet.
I have Lord Zion from Smell Your Mum and the band Spit Like This to tell you all more about this cool brand.
Geek Shirts HQ welcomes Smell Your Mum
……………the latest brand to get undressed.
Who are the people behind Smell Your Mum? Can you start by giving some background about yourself? Where you are from? How did you get into selling t shirts?
There are just two of us behind SMELLYOURMUM.COM, me and my partner in all nefarious activities, Vikki Spit.
The site was first born in 2002 but not so much as a shopping site, more a guerrilla marketing site for our band, SPiT LiKE THiS.
Both band and brand started at around the same time, mainly because we knew that we couldn't do a band and get proper jobs, so we wanted something to help fund the band and also help promote it. The website version I featured all sorts of wrongdoings designed to get us attention. We did sell our first six designs on it, but that wasn't the focus.
Then we decided it should be – mainly by the bank finally allowing us to have a merchant account – and that was when the site you know and love now was created. February 2004. A date that lives on in infamy!
As the band grew, the site grew. As the site grew, the band grew. Both things fed each other – the synergy was (and is) perfect. The kind of people that like our T-shirts like our band, and vice versa.
We never expected it to get so big though. We initially funded this from the sale of used underwear on eBay and now we are in the top 1% most visited websites on the planet! Amazing. And still it is just us two that do EVERYTHING.
We are clearly awesome.
Who creates the designs?
Mainly me. Occasionally Vikki will come up with an idea but, on the whole, it is me. Every now and again (rarely), a customer will suggest an idea. Usually when they do though, they are nicked from another site. We hate that. So many people steal our shit, we try as hard as possible not to do that to others.
A lot of the slogans come about when I am dealing with numpties on Facebook. I might be having an argument with someone and then the phrase “In an infinite universe, full of infinite possibilities, you will still be a cunt” will come out of my fingers to the keyboard to the screen. I then acknowledge that the very same slogan would make a fine T-shirt and we make it.
What process do you follow when designing a shirt?
As nearly all of our designs are slogan based, the trickiest part is matching the design with the attitude behind it. The people that nick our slogans tend to use completely the wrong font type to express it. Another reason why they totally suck. We nearly always get it right and, often, we get it beyond right. They are the ones that sell best.
How would you describe your design style?
In your face. SMELLYOURMUM.COM is an attitude brand run by two people who have carved their own way through life.
No help. Everything we have got and achieved has been through hard work and commitment. Our designs reflect that. Many of them are so wrong, they are perfect.
Where did you get the name Smell Your Mum?
The first six designs we ever did, before there was even a website. One of them was the image that is now our logo (middle finger with “Smell Your Mum” under it). When thinking of a URL, we looked at that and thought that it would stick in people's heads and it also would scare away the idiots that get over stimulated by swear words.
Can you tell me more the brand Smell Your Mum?
From day one we declared that we would never compromise. And we don't. We shy away from nothing.
We have had every newspaper in the land claim that we are what's wrong with society and all that does is make us push harder. Don't like a word? Don't read it! But don't complain about it, that just makes you stupid.
We have had our ups and downs due to our stance, but it is who we are and our customers appreciate us for it. We aren't horrible people, nasty people – we are just like the people who shop with us: a little bit twisted, but in a nice way.
What makes Smell Your Mum different from other Apparel Vendors? What is your USP?
I think the fact that we don't suck up to our customers is one of them! I don't mean we are rude with them, we just joke around with them – like you might with a mate down the pub. It's a very conversational site and the way we sell is the same. We have all the security you could wish for (we get audited for that yearly and have all our certificates etc.), but we aren't going to BEG for customers. The people that want our stuff buy it, the people that don't, don't. We're not ever going to be mainstream and we aren't trying to be.
Plus, there is the band. Selling T-shirts has paid for albums, tours, videos, stage shows, equipment – everything. We have that punk DIY ethic. We don't ask for favours or hand-outs, we just work damn hard making cool shit for people to buy so we can continue making music.
And now…movies! Yep, in the past, our music has been used in movies. Then last year, we shot a Zombie flick and earlier this year, Vikki and I went to Norway to appear in a film. This ignited a fire in me and I spent six months writing a screenplay. I am putting this “around town” as we speak and have several interested parties. Most exciting, the Iron Sky people requested a script! All from T-shirts and relentless, tireless ambition.
Oh, and we go on about our two disabled cats all the time too. Roxy & Rambo. Roxy is deaf and Rambo has spastic cat syndrome. She walks like two chickens stuck together going in opposite directions and is teeny tiny. So a percentage of T-Shirt sales goes to looking after those two.
What’s coming next for Smell Your Mum?
Who knows? We don't really plan that stuff. We are so busy with the tees and the band and now the movies that business plans go out the window. If we were just doing the tees, we could make it beyond massive. But we're not so, as long as it feeds and clothes us and the cats; puts fuel in our tank and pays for our other activities, we are happy. Everything we make gets ploughed back into the entertainment side of things.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years both for yourselves and your business?
Maybe, at some point, it would be nice to hand over the day-to-day running to some trusted employees. I would imagine, by 10 years that would be the case. After all, we will be megalomaniacs by then. If, on the way, we can entertain a few million people whilst annoying and offending a few million more, we will be happy.
How much importance do you place on Facebook Twitter and similar sites when marketing your brand?
Those things didn't exist when we started. We used to give out obnoxious stickers. They would go all around school. That was our social network – and it worked well. Now, between me, Vikki, the band site(s) and the tee site(s) we reach hundreds of thousands of like-minded people on a daily basis. We probably don't utilize them the best we can – i.e. as tools – as we are too busy trying to make people laugh and generally be entertaining. And I don't get on with Twitter. I waffle too much.
When getting your apparel printed what is the process that you prefer and why?
Vikki does it all. Poor Vikki. We never knew, honest! When we first started, she said “I'll learn to screen print” not aware that 100,000 T-Shirts lay before her. As a result – no joke – she has seriously bad RSI. Some of the joints have grown extra bone to cope with the stresses. I feel bad about that. But we cannot move to transfers, as they are shit. As everything is made to order, we cannot get other people to print them up. Plus it means we can keep our costs low whilst keeping quality high.
What brands of apparel do you prefer to print on?
We choose Fruit of the Loom “Heavy” as that is what most people know. Every band T-shirt in the land is printed on it, so people know the size from that and that the quality is good. It takes the print well and is durable so it makes sense.
What would a customer expect when ordering a product from you?
Number one, security. We have NEVER had a problem with our online security. All environments where transactions are made are in an https URL, with SSL at the highest level. We never ever see any card details.
Our customers ARE our biggest asset and our best friends. We go out of our way to provide the kind of service that we ourselves would want. Selling at the volumes we do, occasionally a problem might occur (i.e. we might send the wrong size by mistake). Whenever anything like this happens, we will rectify it with no fuss or argument at our expense.
Nothing is more important to us than the people that buy from us. It is because of their support that we are able to fulfil our dreams – we never forget that.
We ship for free, using second class if shipped within a day; first if not. Since Royal Mail increased their charges so much, we use Hermes for larger orders. Every order will also get a few cool freebies.
On the odd occasion, if the customer is near us, we will surprise the hell out of them by hand delivering. But this is rare. We like it though as it is always fun to meet the people just like us.
Anyone you want to give a shout out to?
Only anyone that has ever shopped with us or told someone about us. Thank you.
Who are your favourite designers and/or brands?
Don't have any. We keep ourselves to ourselves to remain true to our ethos.
Who are your influences?
Influenced by life. Nothing more, nothing less.
Is there anything else you want to add? Where is the best place to find your designs and buy some of your shirts? And of course get in contact with you
Our website www.smellyourmum.com would be the first stop. We do sell on eBay, Amazon and Etsy too, but their rules mean that we cannot list the more “extreme” stuff. We also attend many conventions, Expos, tattoo shows and the like. They are the best as we get to meet so many of the people that have supported us. There is a convention calendar on our site so you know where we will be.
Any new products in the pipeline for Smell Your Mum that we need to look out for?
We tend to add new stuff as and when we are inspired. A few new designs tend to go on a month. We also design and sell the best greeting cards you will ever see in your life!
What about Spit Like This? Anything you want to share with us?
Yeah, please get involved! You've read the whys and wheres, so get yourself on Spotify or YouTube and check our stuff out. We tour regularly around Europe, so keep an eye out.
spitlikethis.com/wwhy/slttour.html – this is where tour dates are posted.
Our most recent album, “Normalityville Horror”, is available on CD and Digital in the UK. In Europe it is currently digital only but the CD will come out around Sept time. You can get it from the usual suspects or direct from us if you want it signed.
Social media links
Thanks so much for the interview!