On 2-25-13, I officially started CamQuotes Tees…January 2013 were the first prototypes, Special thanks to Megan for that.
It was more than an extra outlet of expression. I wanted to capture something unique about myself and monetize that with hopes of turning it into a great revenue stream that would make working optional. I believe I had even set a goal to sell 1,000 shirts in a year. Long story less long, I didn’t make that happen. I learned a lot from the process though.
I hand picked the shirts by my own personal quality test. I researched brands and purchased as a wholesaler. I would then take those shirts and have them printed by the local screen printing place, which became a challenge in itself. One lady wouldn’t print my t-shirts because she didn’t like the brand of shirts I was using. Told me the company was doing unethical practices to create the shirts and she would not sell nor print for any paying customer. Come to think of it, I ended up going through 3 different printing places because of issues I never foreseen happening just trying to “get my shirts made”. I went through fonts, I made a promo video, I asked purchasers of shirts to take pictures and send them to me. It was honestly very cool looking back even though there were some headaches along the way.
I fell victim to a lot of things now that I sit here and reflect. One thing that hurt me most long term was “listening to the consumer…the potential consumer”. The people that ask for a certain color, size or quote, but never really end up buying anything. The people that ask you where are you or when will you be in town because they want to purchase and then don’t and become hard to reach. Do you have 4XL? Does this come in Pink, Purple or any other color I happen to not have. Asking when are the next shirts coming out, but still haven’t purchased the original one.
The other uncomfortable part is the awkwardness of asking for support and not getting it. I remember giving shirts out and asking people to take pictures with them and they would take pictures of the shirt laying on a surface or object. Some would “Hollywood Me” like Varnell Hill. Sure I’ll wear the shirt, thanks! Never ever seen that shirt again, lol! I won’t lie, in real time it hurt. It hurt because I could have taken a “No” for any reason and it honestly wouldn’t have made me feel a way. That janky support though…That’s when I never hit you up again. Maybe that’s what they wanted, so it’s win-win in that regard.
I tried giving shirts to Project Pat and Juicy J. Didn’t go as desired but I shot instead of wondering what if.
Then I got the potential buyers who “think the quotes are funny, crazy and want one” but at the same time “don’t want to be judged or be offensive for wearing them”. Some conversations and feedback really had me defeated.
I still have a box of what’s left of these tees. Right now, I’m thinking maybe take one last picture of them and let Goodwill do what they wish with the rest. I had a decent run 2013-2015, but ultimately I became frustrated with the process of the shirts and the inconsistent support and shut everything down before the ball dropped on 2016. I started trying to give them away to anybody that wanted them in 2016.
Truth be told, that shouldn’t have stopped me. I sold a decent amount for the first 2 years of business. Had a website, business cards and the people that genuinely purchased would genuinely purchase again from me.
I got compliments on the quality of the shirts I selected. I got praise for “getting shirts for women” as far as cut and style. When I was done and over it, some people were still asking for tees. That was a dope feeling.
Looking back, I should have stuck it out. It started off super generic but I still sold shirts. I look at other shirts now and I don’t think any of them are more or less special than mine were. In fact, what made mine so special was they were all apart of actual moments of my life.
I should have taken more time to evolve the product. Been more concerned with selling the shirts and not being overly concerned about the amount of shirts sold. Also, I shutdown production when it got easier to print shirts! Today it’s like 6 sites/apps that you can print and sell shirts. I wouldn’t even need the self investment amount I was putting up back then, right now. The game has truly changed.
If you ever bought a tee, took a picture, posted it and showed that genuine support, thank you. I greatly appreciate you and want you to know that. It was you that gave me great inspiration and I should have never quit on you. Apologies for that. I was on to something and I should have toughed it out one more year. Who knows what would have happened in what would be the 6th year of business.