Behind the Scenes

The 2016 Journey: Launch a t-shirt brand

The 2016 Journey: Launch a t-shirt brand

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since we embarked on the TeeChu adventure! Watching an episode of BBC’s Sherlock (with prodding from friends) sparked off the very first wave of sketches and design ideas for the collection. It’s been a tricky approach with many different paths available for anyone thinking to launch a t-shirt brand. Ours had a lot of positives, and things we would have done differently in retrospect. A year later we’ve launched the website with a small number of shirts, sweaters and badges for the debut range!

A big thank you to all our followers, friends and customers for your support in helping us launch the collection, your feedback and ideas for future designs! A special thanks goes out to SuzieGeeForce, our creative director who has helped shaped the designs/written for the website. It’s been an incredible journey so far, and truly humbling to see customers and collaborators around the world wearing TeeChu exclusive designs.

These are our 2016 highlights.

A t-shirt shoot to remember

At the end of May we popped our t-shirt samples into a suitcase and wandered towards the end of London. It was the very first TeeChu photoshoot – one of the key steps to when trying to launch a t-shirt brand. An afternoon of sushi, shirts and excitement – shot by the mysterious, yet talented, Processor Eggman. A big thank you to everyone who took part in the creative process, from direction to video production!

The main ranges shot included our eclectic collection of Pokémon inspired tees – bright, bold colours and familiar geometric shapes. A firm favourite has to be the Triple Threat tee; a remixed design that draws influence from the starter sprites in Pokémon Yellow – perhaps one of my favourite games in the series, ever.

Other pieces included exclusive artwork that uses The Legend of Zelda for inspiration – including a futuristic Midna design and a pop-art take on Majora’s Mask. Some of these tees weren’t available as part of our launch collection, though, but will be considered for 2017.

How to Launch a t-shirt brand - photo of zelda shirts Step two to Launch a t-shirt brand - cheesy photos!

Launch a t-shirt brand: A big box and washing machines

One of the most existing moments of 2016 was when we received the first batch of TeeChu designs, the key step to launch a t-shirt brand. It was a tough time to find a supplier who met our strict checks, however. The worst thing for any new t-shirt owner would be when the print wears off after a few uses, or if it isn’t quite sharp enough, so we went through a fair few trials and washing machine cycles to ensure these stand the test of time. Now we’re working with a handful of partners for producing our prints who do understand that quality does matter!

Launch a t-shirt brand: The Website

We developed and launched the TeeChu website at the beginning of August, and seeing our collections available for sale was an incredible feeling. A number of different designs were produced through feedback on Instagram and, thanks to the community drive (and much prodding from family/friends), we launched our very first range of shirts! A handful of sweaters and hats were introduced into the mix towards the end of the year, too.

A milestone for #TeamTeeChu

Instagram was one of our biggest focuses for 2016 and a great place for sharing ideas and feedback. The community support has helped shape the different ideas, and it’s been a pleasure to see! Throughout 2016 we achieved a milestone of over 100,000 “likes”, a massive achievement that we couldn’t have hit without you! It’s been great to see customers sharing images using the #TeamTeeChu hashtag! Here are our top nine pics from this year:

Creative Cosplayers & Collaborations

It’s been great to collaborate with the cosplay community, where we’ve had such a strong reception towards our designs! A big thank you to everyone who has represented TeeChu as part of #TeamTeeChu, in particular Madi.Kat, helloiamkate, Scuba.Steph, Rose and Fi, scarletonthetile, Elisha Jane, Little Jem, K’Dawn and Heidi Maetrix.

We’ve also started collabs with fellow geeky YouTubers, including the brilliant Trekkerprise and melded words with graphics with the powerful poet, SuzieGeeForce.

T-Shirt Trailers with a TeeChu Twist

Part of our approach to producing designs is each has a story, and purpose. Our collection will grow with different merchandise, however we don’t intend to flood the range with designs that are simply thrown together. Part of our journey to launch a t-shirt brand is producing a short trailer for some of the ranges, to highlight the back story. Here are some of our favourites – a spooky Halloween treat and a mischievous yellow mouse:

Launch a t-shirt brand: The Problems & Lessons Learned

Our journey has been an interesting one – in our steps to launch a t-shirt brand we did have a number problems, particularly with timing and expectation. Going back, we would have started a Christmas push far earlier, perhaps filming trailers before the shirts had arrived. Likewise we didn’t quite hit the Pokemon Go peak, but there is expectation for a second hit with new critters on the way over the coming months. We also launched a website were it wasn’t clear where we shipped to, or our story so far – we ship globally, with all orders sent out free of charge – but this wasn’t as clear at launch, either.

So what’s next?

For this year we are looking to produce more tees inspired by Pokemon, The Legend of Zelda, Mario, Sonic, Spider-Man and much more! We’re also aiming to produce art prints, stationary and other exclusive designs to add to your geeky inventory. A massive thank you to everyone who has contributed, talked about TeeChu, shown interest and bought our wares – it’s been an exciting journey and we can’t wait to get stuck into 2017!


About J

J is TeeChu's founder and resident artist, a big Sonic and Zelda fan. Born and raised on hedgehogs and forest adventures!

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