Ever dream of leaving your steady job behind to pursue your dream?
Here are two guys who have done exactly that.
BigBadTees represents more than just a t-shirt brand. They represent the dream held by many of taking that scary leap of risking stability for the chance of something bigger. What started out with exchanges of ideas and designs has now grown into them doing something that thousands of people around the world imagine doing every single day: starting their very own business.
I recently had the chance to pick the brains of the team behind BigBadTees. Here’s some of what they had to say.
Tell us a little about yourselves and your backgrounds.
BigBadTees has kind of a cool origin story. My business partner AE and I worked 9-5 office jobs at a company in Toronto, Canada. To help pass the time, we started emailing memes and funny pictures back and forth. We’re both pretty savvy with graphic design so the pics we were sharing quickly turned into a battle of photoshop one-upmanship. We’d add funny hair, change up the backgrounds, superimpose the pictures onto other pictures – kind of like our own little photoshop contest. We started sharing our stuff with friends and family and got a lot of positive feedback. People told us that our material was funny. So we threw around the idea of how to leave the office life behind and make a living with our unique brand of comedy. The question was how to monetize the material We figured in the era of Instagram where people get unlimited content for free, that the path to success was by selling our work on t-shirts, and BigBadTees was born!
Why did you decide to start designing t-shirts?
Like I mentioned above, we were just a couple of class-clown types with very liberal senses of humor and the ability to create tons of content. The question was, how to make money at it. Not that we’re in it just to make money. We’re very passionate about what we do. We have a deep respect for our clients. We pride ourselves on making a quality end product and we have a huge emphasis on customer service. BUT, we also need to keep the lights on and pay the bills. Our t-shirt site was the best outlet for our comedic sides and it allows us to be in an industry that we actually love.
How scary was it to quit your 9-5 jobs and launch BigBadTees?
Very scary. Walking away from a steady paycheck to start an entrepreneurial venture is probably the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Not to mention having to tell your friends and family about it. “Hey mom and dad, I’m leaving my job to make funny t-shirts.” Not an easy thing to say. It was a huge risk and a big sacrifice, but totally worth it. That being said, every idea is a crazy idea until you make it work. Then it’s not so crazy anymore.
Who/what are some of your inspirations for BigBadTees?
We’re both huge comedy fans. Some of our major comedic influences are Monty Python and Howard Stern, stand-ups like Chris Rock, Norm Macdonald and Doug Stanhope, and comedic actor/stand-ups like David Spade and Kevin Nealon. I guess that makes Saturday Night Live – especially the early to mid-90’s era – a pretty big influence too. What an amazing cast that was. Really, there are too many to name. There’s so much great comedy out there. As far as inspirations for specific designs go, we take a lot of pop culture references and turn them into t-shirt designs. Things like brand parody, movies, sports, television, religion, politics, history and more. We tend to see the funny side in everything.
If BigBadTees was an animal, what animal would it be and why?
Definitely a wolf. That’s why we have a wolf in our logo. In this world, you’re either a sheep or a wolf. You either lead or you follow. We think our customers are wolves too. Our shirts are different. Some of them are pretty offside and they take guts to wear them while you’re in line at the bank or grocery store. Our customers are definitely wolves too. They like our breed of comedy and they like to be different.
How can people find your t-shirts online? (website, social media, other sites etc.)
The website is www.bigbadtees.com and as easy as our desktop site is in terms of a smooth shopping experience, it’s also super easy on your cell phone or tablet as well. Our Instagram is instagram.com/bigbadtees (or @bigbadtees), and Facebook is facebook.com/bigbadtees.
What goals do you have for BigBadTees?
Our ultimate goal is to be the preeminent brand in funny t-shirts. We want people to think of us when they want to buy a funny tee. To achieve that goal, we need to be constantly pumping out new tees, so we’re always creating new designs and adding new products. We’d also like to have some brick and mortar stores eventually.
What’s the BigBadTees process for coming up with new designs?
There’s a never-ending amount of content out there and we’ll create a t-shirt design out of just about anything as long as we think it’s funny. The key is finding the time to actually create all the artwork. To keep up with all the ideas that pop into our heads we use the notepads on our cell phones to write down all our ideas. It’s easy to forget them so writing them down is crucial.
As a new brand, what do you see as your biggest challenge?
Definitely breaking through the noise to stand out amongst the crowd, so marketing is the key. There’s a lot of competition out there.
Anything you would like to say to others who are thinking about launching a t-shirt brand?
You just have to believe in the content and trust that your stuff is worthy. If you’re passionate about the product and you work your butt off, success will come. But you have to get after it, it won’t just fall into your lap. And definitely, don’t expect success to happen overnight. It’s taken a ton of hard work to get to where we are. But it’s been worth every minute of it.