In our last article, readers were introduced to Chicago’s innovative Sleevecandy, an online retailer with the Web’s largest assortment of refurbished vintage t-shirts.
In this edition, get an in-depth look into this exciting company with an exclusive interview given by Sleevecandy’s founder and “Head Person”, Reed Hushka.
Also, if you didn’t get a chance to capitalize on the company’s Black Friday deals, fear not, Cyber Monday is right around the corner – and the deals are awesome.
★Cyber Monday Deals★
Buy 1 Tee⇉10% of your entire order
Buy 2 Tees⇉20% off your entire order
Buy 3 Tees⇉30% off your entire order
Buy 4 or more Tees⇉40% off your entire order
Buy 2 or more tees⇉Free Shipping (this will last until December 31).
Read below for Q&A with Reed, and keep us informed: Will you be purchasing tees this Monday?
▼ How do you describe what Sleevecandy is? What type of audience is your new retail website geared toward?
Sleevecandy is tool that lets people find their perfect t-shirt. We work with The Salvation Army to find the coolest 0.5% of pre-owned t-shirts out there and then, through the magic of the interwebs, make them easy to filter, sort, and purchase find. We have over 2,000 awesome t-shirts and are in the process of building towards 4,000 and then more.
The website is geared, mostly towards college students and young urban professionals. The kids if you will. That said, we have customers who are over 50 and just love cool unique, authentic t-shirts. At the end of the day, our website is geared towards anyone who appreciates authenticity. We sell, with the exception of collector sports t-shirts, non-commercial t-shirts. So, if Urban Outfitters wants to sell you a t-shirt centered around a made-up bar or a made-up shrimp shop, we can get you a shirt from a real bar or a real shrimp shop.
▼ What is the advantage of shopping Sleevecandy?
1. Authenticity: Our t-shirts weren’t thought up by some designer trying to make a cool t-shirt, they were created for another purpose and then become interesting / noteworthy when the user grabs them and brings them into a new situation. We thing this makes our t-shirts cooler.
2. Selection: We have over 2,000 one-of-a-kind t-shirts for people to pick from and are constantly growing and changing our inventory.
3. Doing Good: When you buy a t-shirt on Sleevecandy, 30% of the proceeds go to support adult rehabilitation programs, programs that transform the lives of the homeless and others suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. On top of that, our t-shirts are better for the environment. A new t-shirt takes about 700 gallons of water to produce. Ours take zero.
▼ How did you come up with Sleevecandy? Did previous career experiences and inspirations come into play as you launched this endeavor?
It honestly was mostly a case of wanting something and not having it. When I was in high school and college, my friends and I shopped thrift stores to find these ridiculous t-shirts made by who knows what business or organization. The problem was that, after college, we no-longer had the time to spend hours driving around to thrift stores to find t-shirts that were not only cool but also in our size. So… we had to settle for immeasurably less cool new t-shirts from places like Urban Outfitters. While at Kellogg, I found three others who shared the frustration – wanting cool, authentic t-shirts but not being able to find them – and (as luck would have it) had skills that were complimentary in launching the business.
I do think pervious career experience helped out. We currently have over 2,000 t-shirts in inventory and are constantly expanding that inventory. What helped me when I was conceptualizing the business is that I formerly worked in a manufacturing plant that had to manage 60,000 different parts. As such, the prospect of managing a large number of one-of-a-kind t-shirts didn’t daunt me as much as it may have others. My partner’s job experiences were also very helpful. For example, Kavin Arumugham, our operations guru, formerly worked at General Electric and did an amazing job building the processes we use to source, inventory, and fulfill orders. Andrew Fazekas, another Sleevecandy partner had prior experience in user experience and, as such, he was able to lead development of a website that we’re quite proud of. Finally, Hanif Perry is currently a branding consultant and I think it really shows. One of the seemingly silly but very important things that people seem to really like about us is our name and our tagline. That was all Hanif.
▼ How do you find and decide on the pieces that you showcase on Sleevecandy?
Pricing is hard for any business and it’s hard for us especially since every t-shirt is one-of-a-kind and, due to the nature of our business, some metrics are subjective. We have a matrix we use to determine pricing. The things we look at are:
1. How “Awesome is it” – We know this is quite subjective
2. Approximately what portion of customers will the t-shirt appeal to
3. How rare is it / how hard would it be to find
We’ve also developed a bit of expertise around identifying vintage t-shirts. On our site, we define a vintage t-shirt as any t-shirt made before 1993. Vintage t-shirts are price higher. We also use auction site data to price some of our band, sports, and collector tees.
Beyond the above, t-shirt prices need to be high enough to both cover our, substantial, costs in sourcing the t-shirts and make the 30% donation to The Salvation Army on every t-shirt meaningful. We can only use about 0.5% of t-shirts that go through Salvation Army stores but have to sort through 100% of those t-shirts. Beyond that, each t-shirt must be photographed, tagged, and categorized. As such, creating the Sleevecandy experience – where users can find their perfect t-shirt in minutes not spend hours or days searching – takes quite a bit of effort.
To share your own Cyber Monday deals and steals, please e-mail email@example.com