Our Story ... From 2013-June 2015
You might be surprised to find out that 704 Shop has been around since 2013. You’re probably wondering what we’ve been doing for the past 2 and a half years and why you might only be finding out about us now. Well, long story short is we started this business without a clue in the world about the retail business. We knew absolutely nothing about any of it; what T-Shirts to use, what made made a quality T-Shirt, how to design something in Illustrator, what a vector file was, how to get our logo that we drew on piece of paper into a digital format, how to get a trademark … Seriously, we knew none of it. Luckily, that didn’t stop us from trying to build something awesome for the 704 community and we’ve been teaching ourselves everything as we have been trucking along for the past 2 and a half years. Sure, we’ve had small successes but we certainly have had our lumps and we know there will be a plethora more to come. To say we’ve failed more than we have succeeded would be an understatement. Here’s our story so far …
Check out our sketch of the logo before it made it into the clean digital format you see it now
Our first attempt to make our idea a reality was to use Kickstarter. If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, its the biggest major player in the crowd-funding market. You can read about how it works here. We set out to raise $5000 in 30 days and convinced ourselves we could it no problem, it was only 178 shirts. Looking back at that figure, we were definitely dilusional. We had no social media presence, we had no website, we only had our close friends and family telling us that they would support us. It was a far cry from 178 people, but we thought we could get the shirts to go viral, we had an amazing logo! We launched the campaign with a hope and a dream only to wind up with 33 backers for a total of $1337, $3663 short of making 704 Shop a reality. We were going to have to bite the bullet and start small. You can check out our poor attempt here.
After our failure with Kickstarter, we came up with enough money to get 100 shirts printed. 50 black shirts with a Panther Blue Logo we would called “The Cats” and 50 gray shirts with a black logo called “Newspaper.” We set up an account with Storenvy which allowed us to link our bank account to PayPal to accept payments. Storenvy can be run for free, however we opted to pay $5/mo to promote sales (i.e. 25% off, free shipping, etc). We opened up shop and we got a few sales but nothing like we had hoped. It only got slower as the days progressed. We were dumbfounded at how we could have something so unique to the 704 community and almost no one seemed to care. If we loved being born and raised here, there had to be more people like us, we just had to find them.
Along with the frustrations of trying to find our customer base came more frustrations with how to do business in general. At the forefront of it all was getting our logo trademarked. With our logo being completely unique, you’d think we would have no problem right? Wrong. Apparently, the company that owns LL Bean, Forever 21 and a gang of other popular clothing brands has trademarked “704 b.” Seriously, they trademarked “704 b” just how you are reading it and it was blocking our ability to trademark our logo since we both operate in the same space. We hired lawyers, none of which could help us. They basically told us that since we and this other company both created apparel and they trademarked “704 b” it was a conflict of interest and would cause brand confusions. Brand confusion!?! C’mon, now how many of you reading this have ever seen “704 b” related to anything LL Bean, Forever 21 or any other clothing company for that matter? Our guess is approximately zero.
Even though we had talked with several lawyers and they all pretty much agreed that we were dead in the water, we set out to make the trademark happen anyway. I called the examiner from USPTO and asked what we could do. What happens next is probably the single most surprising event in our company’s history … She tells us almost exactly what we need to do, step by step. When we think of people that hold government jobs, we mostly generalize and assume that we’re going to get some disgruntled worker that hates their job at the DMV. This was refreshing and restored faith in what we were doing. Thank you USPTO examiner, without you, we may not have forged on. (Sidenote: to all the lawyers we called and said you couldn’t help us… IN YOUR FACE!!!!!)
You probably have seen T-shirt campaigns using Teespring flood your Facebook feed. Most of them are corny, ugly and uninspired, but after seeing the success of the “Ice Up Son” shirt on Teespring we decided our own attempt. T-Shirts are expensive and fronting the money for them really wasn’t an option but with Teespring we could give our design a shot with a low investment. We would simply advertise our campaign on Facebook without betting the farm. The design was simple. Enter #LUUUUKKE.
We launched our campaign and sold nearly 100 shirts in 10 days. Amazing! But our run with Teespring would be short lived. Their quality control just wasn’t on par with what we were trying to bring to the 704 community. Teespring uses a multitude of different printers around the nation to complete all the different successful campaigns on their site. The problem with that is, there’s no consistency in the printing. Some of the shirts were missing the base under the white making the hashtag semi translucent, some of the logos on the back were off center or even worse in the middle of the back making the shirt look like a 3 year old designed it. We care too much about our customers to continue down that path. We made enough money through the campaign to re-invest and get the shirts printed from a trusted source.
Buzz City, #LUUUUKKE, & Other Designs
Not much has changed since our small success with TeeSpring. We re-invest the money we make from one shirt to get more designs printed. There is quite the back log of designs waiting to be printed at any given time, we usually don’t have the funds to make it happen. We’re just 3 guys that want to bring awesome, high-quality shirts and designs to Charlotte and the surrounding areas. (not the garbage you find in the airport) Spending most of our time learning social media, marketing, designing in Illustrator & Photoshop, and trying to connect with the community, we want to get to know you. If you email us, tweet us, comment on Facebook or Instagram, we WILL respond. Getting involved with the community and simply talking with people has really helped us gain some momentum and we definitely won’t forget it!
We have a couple of new designs coming out in the next few weeks, as well as more SnapBack hats (back in stock today!). It seems like there’s a request for hats almost daily; we hear you and they’re on the way! Women, we hear you too! Every design that we do going forward will also come in a women’s shirt. In the fall, we plan to release our first hoodies and beanies. Most importantly, we want to know what you guys want to see us do! Email us at Holla@704Shop.com and tell us your ideas or just say what up! We love making new friends :)