I'd been concerned by the high base prices of CafePress shirts and wondered if any other sites were competing with them, so Chris' tip was perfectly timed.
Through Chris I was connected to Marc Scheff, the Creative Director at GoodStorm, so I requested an interview. Marc has graciously agreed, so I'm pleased to present his interview on the Rohdesign Weblog:
Mike: Marc, thanks for taking the time to be interviewed for the Rohdesign Weblog. I have a few questions about GoodStorm, to help those interested in starting an online T-Shirt store more information about your services. I've came across GoodStorm from a tip by Chris Messina, but hadn't heard of your service before. How long has GoodStorm been around, and how it was started?
Marc: We started GoodStorm in October of 2005, and launched in January of this year (2006). We started with the vision of empowering socially progressive organizations, non-profits, and artists to generate higher income from e-commerce sales and use the increased profit to support their causes. Goodstorm was co-founded by Yobie Benhamin and Andy Rappaport. We develop and provide free tools, technologies and social-networking functionality for sellers to create online stores to market print-on-demand apparel and merchandise with their brand through GoodStorm.com.
Marc: We're in Potrero Hill in San Francisco. We refurbished an old planning office and recycled all the materials to make desks and tables. We're a small team, and you'll see people cracking jokes as often as you see us running to handle the ever-increasing workload. It's not unusual for someone to bring in a snack for others to share, or pass around a cool article or design from the web.
Mike: How is GoodStorm able to offer its store owners 70% of the profit on shirts, when sites like CafePress seem to have such high base markups?
Marc: We're scaling GoodStorm to support hundreds of thousands of organizations and individuals.. Non-profits, progressive groups, artists, and musicians make more money with us. That's why we call it “Capitalism Done Right.” It gives everyone a chance to take part in a thriving progressive community that challenges the status quo. People will come through because they get to create a better world through supporting their causes. it's time for a change in thinking about what's fair, and GoodStorm is positioned to facilitate this shift, and sustainably do so on a large scale.
Mike: Can you share any stories about T-Shirt shops in the GoodStorm network that have become popular and profitable?
The NY America is a good example of an established organization using GoodStorm. They launched The Bring Them Home Now Concert for Peace featuring Michael Stipe, Rufus Wainright, Chuck D. and others. Cindy Sheehan was also there. We helped them set up a Bring Them Home Now Store almost overnight which has generated tens of thousands of dollars for their cause through sales of branded T-shirts, peace stamps and others merchandise.
We also have mom-and-pop shops, or father-son shops like deadbeatdesigns. This team put up a handful of pretty clean designs on our site and enjoyed a few days to a week on our front page. They also marketed their store by putting up ads in local online dailies and bulletin boards like Craigslist.
What makes a store work are good designs and strong, sustained marketing. When an organization markets themselves in a few really basic ways, they make money.
Mike: GoodStorm's tagline is "Capitalism Done Right" — can you explain in a little more detail what you mean by that statement?
Marc: We're turning Capitalism, as a concept, on its head. Capitalism as we know it rewards the rich and punishes the poor. The few prosper on the backs of the many. Why should you have to pay, or give away your profits when you're doing the work to build your brand?
Just like deadbeatdesigns, we think you can do a lot with a little, and we're proving it with our model. In English, if you design the shirt and sell it on GoodStorm, we give you a big payoff, and we only keep a little so we can keep offering this service.
We're dropping the barriers to entry so that progressive individuals and organizations can get into the billion dollar e-commerce game. We don't charge a thing for our services, our wholesale prices are low, and we share profit equitably. This model is working, and our stores are doing well.
Mike: As a designer, I find your service is very designer-friendly. Does GoodStorm have some hidden history working with designers, or are designers just one of the markets you intend to serve?
Marc: No secret here. I got involved with GoodStorm in the first place for two reasons: I'm an artist and love working in community. I was happy doing concept art for film and games, web design is something I'd been doing for over ten years, and I've been working with and supporting various communities in different ways in the more recent past. I felt, and feel very lucky to be able to do these things that I truly love doing.
I saw that building GoodStorm would be a way to contribute back and give other people the same opportunity. I love getting artists and designers involved and we're also working with non-profits and progressive groups. As an artist, I know that designers struggle with funding in many of the same ways that non-profits and progressive groups do. I tell people that we work with and empower the underdog, and it's true.
Mike: What are some of your favorite stores in the GoodStorm network?
Marc: Ah, my favorites are the designers. I spend some time each day looking at new stores, new designs, and showing off to the GoodStorm team or my friends and family what people have created on our site. For example, there's this great little shop called Rohdesign...
Mike: Can you tell the readers why they might want to consider creating a store at GoodStorm?
Marc: Sure. There are so many reasons to set up a store at GoodStorm, and the main thing is that you make more money with us than if you went somewhere else and we're real friendly.
GoodStorm provides you with free e-commerce and networking tools so that you can open your own branded online store, sell apparel featuring your designs, and network with a community of people who appreciate your creative work. You can get set up almost instantly, GoodStorm is easy and fun, and you don't have to pay anything or buy anything.
Once you have a design (at 300dpi, saved in transparent PNG format...), you can upload it and have it printed on a wide selection of truly reasonably-priced, great quality t-shirts. We print your shirts on-demand. The best part is, we also do all the work — the inventory, shipping, fulfillment, everything. All you do is contribute your great designs and market your store.
You can create shirts for yourself, your friends, your family, your sports team, your school, your knitting group, your bowling team, your non-profit, your presidential campaign, really anything you want. You can use also GoodStorm to raise funds for a cause, yours or someone else's.
Mike: Any other thoughts about GoodStorm you might like to share, that I may not have mentioned?
Marc: Join the fun at GoodStorm and spread the beauty of your designs with hundreds of thousands of potential customers. We welcome more progressive organizations and individuals, artists, designers, bands, musicians, and do-gooders to benefit from our service.
Mike: Thanks again for the opportunity to interview you.
Marc: My pleasure, Mike. Thanks for taking the time with me.
If you have an inkling to create some t-shirts, check out GoodStorm!