Step one in promoting t-shirts printed with popular culture objects is to get permission from the rights holders. Kevin Stecko has been doing this since 2000 when he launched 80sTees.com, his t-shirt firm. However receiving this permission isn’t simple.
He advised me, “I began the enterprise with drawings of He-Man, a toy cartoon. I bought that license, after which they would not approve nearly any of my initiatives. »
Quick ahead to 2023, and 80sTees.com has 120,000 SKUs with photos from films, TV exhibits, comics, and extra. He and I lately chatted about his background – licensing, warehousing, dropshipping, and so on.
Audio of our whole dialog is embedded beneath. The transcript is edited for size and readability.
Eric Bandholz: Inform us about your small business.
Kevin Steko: It is 80sTees.com. I began the enterprise in 2000. We promote t-shirts with cartoon photos, toys and video video games. I am sporting my Karate Child shirt right now.
We have to acquire licenses from the creator to make use of many of those photos. At first, I had to purchase from the producers who owned the rights. A few of them would hold inventory, and I might purchase three of a dimension. Some did not maintain inventory, and I had to purchase a complete print run.
My warehouse had at the very least one in all every thing we bought. I purchased the house, 45,000 sq. toes. As quickly as I purchased the constructing, Amazon sellers began consuming away at our enterprise. We by no means wanted all of the house. Now nearly every thing is printed on demand and delivered instantly. For probably the most half, so long as there are not any licensing points, I ship orders to our suppliers electronically, they usually ship them to our prospects.
There are about 10 corporations that ship orders for us. They’ll license us and print on demand, and we checklist it on our web site.
Bandholz: How do you discover rights holders and negotiate costs?
Steko: There are a number of methods to seek out them. I typically begin by going to the web site and sending an e-mail asking who I am speaking to in regards to the license. There’s a huge commerce present in Las Vegas referred to as Licensing Expo which is useful.
When you’re prepared to spend $3 million, Disney will most likely ask you for a license – whether or not it is traditional Disney, Star Wars, or Marvel, they’re going to all value a ton of cash to license.
Hasbro is not as grasping. I’ve a take care of this firm for Transformers and GI Joe.
Giant corporations have comparable authorized agreements. Some will need the everyday 10% royalty for t-shirts. Some will need extra, but it surely’s normally between 10% and 12%. In the usual approval course of, we generate a mock-up of the design after which ship it to them. If authorized, the subsequent step is a manufacturing pattern. As soon as they approve the pattern, we are able to put it on-line.
Bandholz: How do they know what number of gross sales you’ve?
Steko: It’s primarily a matter of belief. Within the settlement, I’d settle for an audit. If my numbers are fallacious, I must pay for verification and for errors or under-reporting. This normally does not matter to us as a result of we have assured so many gross sales. I’d solely pay a royalty if gross sales exceed this quantity.
To report back to the rights holder, we are going to add a quarterly report of our gross sales for this merchandise. It exhibits at what value we bought the product and the way a lot. Then we ship them these experiences and pay the charge, if any.
Shopping for a license is at all times a threat. We by no means know what’s going to promote or if the licensee will endorse our designs. I signed offers the place we could not get something authorized.
I began the enterprise with drawings of He-Man, a toy cartoon. I bought that license, after which they would not approve nearly any of my designs. We’d make a drawing and ship it to them for his or her approval. They nearly at all times answered, “No, I can not try this.” So we let that settlement expire. I am fairly certain we misplaced cash as a result of we had so little to promote.
Bandholz: What number of SKUs are there in your website?
Steko: We’ve over 10,000 fashions. Every design has 5 to 12 sizes. So 120,000 references. The navigation of our website is exclusive. It’s configured for navigation. We’ve an enormous menu bar that turns into an accordion fashion menu. We wish guests to see all of our stuff, not only one merchandise.
Bandholz: You promote on Fb.
Steko: Earlier than the pandemic, we have been spending lower than $100 a day on Fb. When the stimulus checks have been carried out, we noticed how properly Fb advertisements have been working, so we continued to extend the finances to the purpose the place it was our greatest month of Might 2020.
Some days even now the advertisements suck or we do not get the earlier week’s conversion rely. However total, nothing comes near Fb. We now spend over $500 a day.
Bandholz: You might be semi-retired now.
Steko: Appropriate. I haven’t got a favourite challenge. I assist my workers, and my spouse and I are sometimes free in the course of the day, and we go climbing or exit for lunch. I’ve labored arduous for a really very long time, so downtime does not hassle me.
Bandholz: The place can individuals assist you?
Steko: Our website is 80sTees.com. I am on it Twitter And LinkedIn.
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