Your Project Is Not Good Enough
Here’s what I knew about the website: Threadless.com is a t-shirt website that accepts designs from the public, and then takes votes on each accepted submission, allowing their community to decide which designs actually get printed and which artists are awarded cash prizes for their efforts. Each winning design is printed in a limited run and then added to the website for purchase.
Here’s what I knew about Threadless.com’s philosophy: Nothing. My mind was as blank as a plain white 100% cotton t-shirt.
Through random linkage I stumbled across a site (www.apieceofshirt.com) that featured a 45-minute video of Threadless.com honchos Jake Nickell and Jeffrey Kalmikoff speaking to the Community Next Conference at Stanford University. The title of their presentation was “The Patent-Pending skinnyCorp Method for Creating Online Awesomeness and Other Stuff.”
I was most impressed by what appears to be their company mantra:
It’s not meant as a demeaning or critical statement — it’s simply the guiding idea that no project should be considered 100% complete. Concepts can (and should!) always be improved upon.
The garment gurus also provided Four Commandments to make money the “awesome way” on the internet. Although they only had four, they assured the audience that in order to compete with Moses’ original ten-count, that theirs were 2.5 times more important.
- Commandment #1
Allow your content to be created by the community.
- Commandment #2
Put your project in the hands of the community.
- Commandment #3
Let your community grow itself.
- Commandment #4
Reward the community that makes your project possible.
I also spotted the video below of an appearance by the guys on WTTW in Chicago. Although tv host is a little annoying (it seems like he could have done at least a “little” more research on his guests before they showed up in his studio — and could have pointed out 3 or 4 more times that they dropped out of college. Geez.) the guys do manage to provide some additional insights within the short bit of coverage, as well as share an interesting comment that came from one of the Stanford grads in the presentation mentioned above.
I always thought Threadless.com was a cool and creative t-shirt company — but now I know it’s simply a cool and creative company (whether they sell t-shirts or not.)