BUSTED TEES IS A NEW T-SHIRT COMPANY STARTED BY JAKOB LODWICK (R.I.T. 2003), RICK
VAN VEEN (WFU 2003), ZACHARY KLEIN (WFU
2004), AND JOSHUA ABRAMSON (PHI ALPHA
2003). JAKOB WAS DEEP INTO TRANSACTIONAL DATA PROGRAMMING AND XML
STRUCTURE WHEN I SENT HIM THESE QUESTIONS ON FEBRUARY 22nd, 2004....
posted May 4th, 2004
Nick Gray WFU:
looks like your shirt site is getting started, can I ask you some questions
CV JAKOB: yes, let's do it now
Nick Gray WFU: ok great.
what are your initial impressions as you are about to start a
I'm nervous. I always get a sad feeling when I walk into a store with one
employee and no other customers; an "alternative" toy store, for example. I
picture the owner at a desk in the back room, staring at some financial papers
and just feeling hopeless and defeated. Time to spend $275 on a big "going out
of business" ad in the county paper!
If we sell 20 shirts in the first three months, I'm not going to start crying,
but I'll probably feel a little embarrassed.
still be just as popular, but I'll probably question myself a little more and go
into my next venture a little more cautiously. Right now we've all got a lot of
confidence because we've been so fortunate with
previous ventures, but there's
no guarantee that our luck will continue.
Nick Gray WFU: (reading)
has it been harder than you thought?
CV JAKOB: Yes. The biggest challenge is the e-commerce bullshit. I couldn't find a manual
for how to handle everything, so piecing it all together in my head has taken a
while. There are so many companies to deal with - the people who are printing
the shirts, the fulfillment people (the guys who actually mail the shirts out to
the customers), the credit card authorization service, the company that handles
our merchant account, plus our web host... I never went to business school, so
my concept of how it all comes together is fresh-faced (albeit on the verge of
losing its innocence).
As far as software, we're doing everything ourselves using
osCommerce as a foundation, and it's
several times harder than I anticipated. On top of that, there's still ~12 more
hours of last-minute work to be done. For the past two months last-minute work
is all I've been doing, though, so take that with a grain of salt.
It's been a much different experience than putting together sites like
Campus Hook. Those sites were built up gradually with hundreds
of revisions over the months and years, and there had been plenty of important
features that weren't added until long after the site launched. But with the
T-shirt site, it's not like we can postpone the part where an XML document gets
posted to the fulfillment company's server with each order's details. We can't
really fuck around and half-ass any features - it has to be 100% ready and done.
I guess that's what makes it so much harder: this website can't launch until
it's done. Which is kind of antithesis to, say, every other website I've ever
built, ever. Remember when every site on the web was "UNDER CONSTRUCTION"? I
think those just disappeared because people realized the message was redundant.
Nick Gray WFU:
what type of artistic constraints have you as an artist suffered for
the company's future?
The hardest part was rejecting lots and lots of great shirts. Ricky had been
keeping an Excel document with about 140 slogans and ideas, and we kept needing
to narrow them down until we only had ten left. I guess there's a point where
you have to suck up and just accept that some good stuff is going to get left
Nick Gray WFU: using
osCommerce seems a little overkill, doesn't it?
Not necessarily - we tried using a couple other freeware packages and they were
just completely inadequate. osCommerce does have a lot of features we didn't
need, but we just left those out of our build of it. But if you look at sample
sites that use osCommerce, there are plenty of small, simple sites that seem to
be just fine with it.
Nick Gray WFU: it sounds like a largely outsourced solution - was this a
limiting factor when you had to limit the number of shirt designs to open with?
CV JAKOB: yes, it is
CV JAKOB: oh, can I give you some links?
Nick Gray WFU: please
CV JAKOB: I'll give them in order
CV JAKOB: the people who are printing the shirts =
CV JAKOB: the fulfillment people =
CV JAKOB: the credit card authorization service =
CV JAKOB: merchant account =
Justin did most of the trickier designs
CV JAKOB: and, obviously,
CV JAKOB: ok buddy, ttyl!
NICK's NOTE- I'VE STOLEN TWO SHIRTS FROM THE BOXES THAT
THEY SHIP ZACH TO PHOTOGRAPH. I'M GIVING THEM BACK IN JPEG.