Illustrations

My new business… possibly

Hairy Dog t-shirt

Hello. Remember me?! Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately. Before Christmas consumes me, I thought I’d better post an update!

The reason I’ve been a bit preoccupied lately is due to the hairy dog I drew way back in May. A friend very kindly put him on a t-shirt and a mug for me as a gift, and ever since then, people have been asking me where they can buy them. Which made me think. Hmmm… maybe I should order a few more?

So that’s what I’ve been doing for the past few months.

I commissioned a designer to vectorise my illustration (which basically means it can be enlarged to any size without losing resolution) and I gave Hairy Dog his own facebook page (he was most chuffed, I can tell you).

I researched eco printers in the UK and settled on one in the West Country, who screen print their organic cotton t-shirts by hand using 100% solvent-free water-based inks.

So far so good.

Next, I emailed a select group of friends and family to ask for their feedback on which colours I should order for stock and, to my surprise, I got 20 concrete orders. Bingo!

You’d think the rest would be easy, wouldn’t you? Er, no.

I placed my order with the printers and prepared to put my feet up, whilst I noodled around with finishing a picture book I have been writing. But things didn’t quite go according to plan.

First, the printing company didn’t have all the colours in stock, so I had to go back to people and ask them to choose alternative colours. Then someone tipped me off that the women’s t-shirts come up verrrrrrry small (they are a very flattering slim cut), so I had to go back to the women and double check they had ordered the right size. Then, when the t-shirts finally arrived, I discovered there had been a slight technical hitch with the printing. Arghhhhh!

To be fair to the printers, once they realised their mistake, they pulled out all the stops to rectify things and send me out another batch ASAP. But still, it was slightly stressful; some people had ordered t-shirts as Christmas presents and I was getting ‘slightly angsty’ about them not receiving them in time (which is a polite way of saying, I was feeling a mini meltdown coming on).

To cut a long story short, the new t-shirts arrived in the nick of time on Monday. They looked stunning.

PHEW!

Now I am waiting to see how people respond to them. So far, it looks promising: One friend came over to pick up the t-shirt she had bought for a friend. She tried it on, fell in love with it, and decided to keep it for herself! And yesterday, another friend (who hadn’t ordered a t-shirt) popped round for a cuppa, spotted one of the t-shirts and declared, “I love it, I HAVE to have it!” So I made another sale on the spot, whilst having tea and cake. Very civilised :-)

But, OK, these are friends. The question is, where do I go from here?

I am pondering a few options. I could…

1. Set up a website, order more stock in, and run the Hairy Dog Company from home (possibly adding mugs and some of my other illustrations to the range)

2. Use a fulfillment company, such as Teemill, who will take care of all the printing and sales for me, and pay me a small percentage per sale

3. Forget this idea altogether – it was a fun experiment and nothing more!

What do you think? If anyone has any feedback or advice regarding any of the above, I’d love to hear from you. I’ll probably order one more batch of t-shirts in the new year, whatever happens, as a few more people have asked for a t-shirt – so if anyone fancies one, please shout and I’ll post details in January.

Until then, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!!

With love

Katherine & Hairy Dog x

Paw print

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7 thoughts on “My new business… possibly

  1. Love the T-shirt idea, Katherine – your designs are such fun. If you’re not sure whether the idea has wings beyond your friends, the safer option would be to use Teemill or something similar (they give you 50% of the sale, which is pretty good), and then see how many orders you get, before launching your own website and business. Or you could try setting up a crowdfunding campaign to launch your business, offering T-shirts, mugs etc, for pledges – that would give you the opportunity to see whether it was a popular idea without costing you anything. Either way, I do hope Hairy Dog continues to be a huge success!! Happy holidays – must catch up in 2016!! x

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    1. Hi Julia, lovely to hear from you and thanks so much for taking the time to comment. You’re right – Teemill would be a really good way of testing the waters without any risk/big outlay. I might try a few small local shops too. Crowdfunding is a good idea but scares the living daylights out of me, ha ha. Hope all’s good with you? It would be great to catch up in 2016 – maybe we could meet for a coffee half way somewhere? Until then, have a fantastic Christmas! xx

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  2. Hi Katherine and Merry Christmas. Yes I agree. The Teemill approach may well be the best way to start. It sounds a lot let stressful if they take care of everything and you still get 50% Can they do other products such as mugs? If it does prove successful and I think it will. You can then launch your business and make no bones about it. Sorry poor pun ha ha. Has my re printed shirt arrived yet? If so I will come and collect it sometime in the new year. Take care and have a lovely and Hairy Christmas! xx

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    1. Thanks Phil, Teemill is definitely the less stressful route to take but you only get 50% of the profits, which works out as being between £2.00-£3.00 per t-shirt. Still, something is better than nothing and it would leave me free to concentrate on writing a picture book for Hairy! Yes, your t-shirt has arrived (really sorry, my brain was gone AWOL – I thought I had emailed you). To save you coming over her again so soon, I can easily send it to you. I’ll send you an email. In the meantime, thank you for all your encouragement and support this year. Wishing you a very joyful New Year! x

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