We caught up with designer and entrepreneur Marc, who founded one of the coolest independent design stores on Teemill – My Creatures – a store packed with iconic prints that blew our designers away. His story is well worth a read, and in this blog we to find out what has made his #lowpoly animal conservation-inspired brand so successful and what tactics have worked for him on his journey so far.
Hey Marc, thanks for taking the time to share your story. Tell us, what motivated you to start the brand? How did you end up with the idea?
I’d been experimenting with LowPoly Geometric illustrations for a little while and a friend of mine asked if I’d like to create a T-shirt design for his site called Call of the Brave, which prints independent artists’ designs on ethical T-shirts. It got a pretty good reaction and as a result, I got hooked on ethical clothing and knowing how/where my clothes are made. I found out about Teemill and it was like those two worlds – my design work and fair fashion – combining.
What was the hardest thing about starting a brand, and how did you overcome it?
I had designs, I had a domain and had the brand idea already.
I found the process of starting relatively straightforward. Teemill was such an easy tool to get to grips with it all happened pretty quickly.
Promoting the brand further was more tricky, but it is still a work in progress, and again the blog on Teemill is a massive help.
What advice would you give to people starting out selling t-shirts online?
Plan your time. I’m pretty bad at this, but getting better. I used to spend so long planning posts for social media and forgetting about the site itself. But with good planning and management platforms (I use Hootsuite) you can manage the balance between the promotional, the site and the new designs as well as having a life!
Love the scheduling idea, great advice! So you’ve been working hard on growing your brand. What motivates you to keep pushing?
People telling you that they like your designs. I generally create stuff that I like, so when you see someone wearing your tee and telling you how cool it is, I get a bit of a kick out of that.
I want to be able to get the brand to a point where we can do a bit more: I set up with the idea that at some point a certain percentage of the profits could go towards animal conservation – so that the customer is buying a product that is created fairly and then goes further to creating more fairness in the wider natural world, which is the biggest inspiration to the brand.
Is there anything you would do differently if you started over?
Maybe slow down my expectations a bit. I was too worried that I didn’t have enough designs, social posts, followers, sales. But it’s just a process that takes time. I tried to do it all in the first couple of months and would be a bit hard on myself when it wasn’t going well, but as the business has grown, so has my understanding of it.
Great tip. What has worked best for you to spread the word about My Creatures?
Friends and family obviously have been amazing – they’re all very supportive and kind. By word of mouth, I’ve built a core of customers that have been the bedrock of My Creatures.
I arrived late to Instagram, but I found posting here far more beneficial as it’s a visual medium that you can really exploit with good design.
I find it far more interactive than the other platforms. And the ethical clothing community is vast and encouraging. Lastly, just enjoying it – I design better when I’m enjoying myself, and this has been a blast so far!
That’s awesome! So how long was it until you got your first sale?
It happened on day 1. My friend knew I was starting and he bought within minutes of me setting up. It was amazing meeting him in the pub a few days later with him wearing it. Wearing my design! I felt rather proud.
Why did you choose Teemill instead of trying to do it all yourself?
A mate was telling me about a brand called Rapanui and their values, I emailed them asking if they use independent artists’ work. They emailed back pointing me to Teemill – I had a look at the processes involved and the simplicity, the low risk and, most importantly to me, the standard of the ethics involved – and I started up mycreatures.co.uk within a few days.
The fact that they do all the leg-work. I do the designs and uploads and keep the site fresh and stay on top of the social side of things, but they handle the printing, dispatch, returns, materials, contact.
I guess the fact that they give you a quality product physically as well as online, is a massive advantage.
What’s it like knowing there are hundreds of people out there wearing your designs?
It’s exciting. It’s mad really. I get a real buzz when I see photos that people have posted and they are wearing a T-Shirt with my design on it. But that is why I do it, and why I enjoy it so much.
I’ve not seen anyone out on the street yet, but I have come across photos online of people that aren’t in that initial ‘Friends & Family’ group wearing them. It’s genuinely a great feeling!
Thanks so much for sharing your story Marc. So inspiring and we are really rooting for you to continue the brand’s growth. Before we go, anyone you want to say thanks to or shout out to?
Alys Jones for putting up with me sat at a laptop for hours almost every evening, and for supporting and encouraging me every step of the way – My Creatures will not have made it so far without her. Dave Martin from Call of the Brave for starting me on this path of designing for ethical clothing.
Anyone who has bought. Buying ethically and knowing how and where clothes are made is important to me and to know that other people feel the same, they deserve a shout out too!