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Feature Friday ~ Wearable Art

March 5, 2010

This Friday I'm excited to introduce to you a brand new business; the fun and unique, Wearable Art! This business is especially interesting to me because it is owned and operated by one of my childhood friends Taylor Fox. We grew up living down the street from one another and I knew that his creativity and innovative ideas would take him far ever since he asked me out in 6th grade with the email address "pleasegooutwithmekatie AT hotmail DOT com.":)

Today, as a University of Missouri MBA student Taylor is channeling his creativity into this up and coming business! The theme is very literally, art that you can wear. The company manufacturers t-shirts that come with special fabric markers. The numerous t-shirts designs (which are also customizable) are comparable to a picture in a color book; perfect for a child to color! Taylor takes us through the process of starting Wearable Art and how it works in his interview.

Princess

1. First, where did you come up with the idea for t-shirts that can be colored on?

My cousin Mike, father of two young kids, often faced the boredom dilemma when he brought his kids to work with him. Happening to work at a screen printing office; one day with extra paint and extra white t-shirts lying around, Mike screen printed the outline of a train in black and let his son Arlen, 5, do the rest with paint. After making Arlen's artwork permanent, Arlen, so proud of the shirt, insisted on wearing it for a week straight. 

2. Once you had the basic idea what was the next step? i.e., logo, name, packaging, etc.

We initially thought we would copy "Build-a-Bear's" theme and make small retail stores where kids could come in and color shirts, have birthday parties, etc. We would offer rhinestones and other appliques; stock certain designs and offer custom designed shirts. However this presented a lot more risk and more commitment upfront to an idea we weren't sure about. We held a few birthday parties and kids loved them! So we decided to work on ways to package the experience to be sold in stores. The name just came to us but packaging has gone through many revisions. The coloring method started as paint, then moved to non-toxic paint, then to markers and finally pastel dye sticks. I still do however, feel a place for birthday parties would be great and do well. We are looking at having places who host birthday parties pick up our product.

Shirts

3. How did you go about finding a manufacturer for your product? Was that process difficult?

Mike's profession as a screen printer gives us a significant competitive advantage. We can easily turn orders around and print custom designs inexpensively. He knew where to get shirts and we simply had to find the plastic for the bag, a local printer to print the header on the package, cardboard inserts and the pastels. I mentioned above the struggle to ultimately find the pastels. Mike and Binky Guy Textiles  put the product together and package it. 

4. I know that you attended a trade show with your finalized product. Did you find this a successful/useful tool for marketing.

It was huge. We are still receiving orders from people we met at the trade show over a month ago. Although we didn't sell enough at the actual show to cover all fees and expenses of the trip, we have now. Further, the contacts you make at these shows make all of the difference. Everything from kids magazines and blogs, to finding Chinese manufacturers, to getting advice and feedback and making sales, the trade show does soooo much. We found our first sales rep through the show as well. We have already signed up for a show in Chicago this summer.

Tradeshow
5. How long did the entire process of starting your own business take AND what did you find the most challenging?

The initial idea hit us in December 2008 and it took about a year to get the product ready to go in stores. However, there would be months where we would lose focus or motivation and not do anything related to Wearable Art. Mike and I also have full time jobs/student work. The hardest part for me was staying committed with an uncertain project taking up so much time and not making any money. It is so refreshing to be accepting payments and finally be making money.

6. Do you outsource any aspects of the business such as website design, accounting, etc.?

We do everything but make the materials used for the packaging and the pastel dye sticks. We built the website, which looks pretty professional in my opinion, using an online service called wix.com. It is an amazing flash site and at $5 per month, it is a steal. I do the accounting. We both do some sales but you could say we are trying to outsource some of that to our sales reps as well. Finally, in a partnership with the Mizzou MBA program, we have two teams of students doing some market research for us that needs to be done. 

Princessshirt

7. Finally, as a relatively new business what are your goals for the first year? 

We haven't set numerical goals but there are a few things we are striving for. First, we are young enough to only have had a couple of customer re-orders. I would like to see some validation of the product in a retail setting. I would like to have sales reps covering the entire country with product in at least half the states. We are currently in 4. Finally, Wearable Art needs a focus. From Gas stations, to corporate picnics, to art museums, schools and even daycares: Wearable Art could be sold to numerous channels. Being so small, we need a focus and it is hard to determine where. Any advice is appreciated!

Shirts1

If your're interested in ordering shirts, customizing a design or just getting more information check out their website at coloryourclothes.com!  

AND 

Become a fan on facebook here!

AND

Keep up to date with the latest new by following Wearable Art on twitter!

Thanks Taylor and good luck in your first year of business!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 9:31 am

    Check your facts, it was 5th grade. lol

  2. March 5, 2010 10:56 am

    Haha! I just give us props for having email addresses in 5th grade! We were so cool. :)

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