Starting a T-shirt business is relatively easy. All you need is couple of ideas converted to T-shirt designs, a good printer and an access to internet. Making your T-shirt line succeed is – of course – something very different. Amy L. Fiedler, the president and the owner of American-based T-shirt line Winky Boo L.L.C. (which we featured recently) started creating her dream job knowing that you have to rely on much effort, hard work and a bit of luck in order to succeed. Launched only in August 2010 Winky Boo already created some of the nicest T-shirt designs out there, whilst building a loyal fan base every day. Want to know Amy’s story? Then keep on reading this very interesting interview we just made with her!
- Jester T-shirt by Winky Boo
How did you decide to start your company and what’s the story behind it?
I had graduated college and was working as a stylist assistant in NYC for a few years. It just sort of popped in my head one day that I was tired of working for other people, being bossed around. Why not start my own company, be my own boss and make my own decisions. I majored in Photography in college and concentrated in fashion photography. I always had a natural talent for fashion and styling ever since I was little I wouldn’t leave the house without a tiara on my head and wearing every piece of jewelry I owned. I knew I had the knowledge, experience and talent to create my own clothing line and so I did.
What’s the message you try to spread with Winky Boo designs?
The name Winky Boo was created from memories of my grandfather. He had such a playful spirit and was just the best guy in the world to be around. He always taught us grandchildren to have a sense of humor in life, be carefree, enjoy it because it only lasts so long. The name came from nicknames he had named me, my brother and sister when we were young. My sister, Winky after she was a flying monkey in the Wizard of Oz for a school play, my brother, Boo Boo after Yogi Bears sidekick. My nickname was Princess, because I always had a crown on my head, and my jewels on. Winky Boo is a brand that celebrates imagination, creativity and a beautiful spirit. As you see the name and the concept all stem together, through childhood nicknames, a playful grandfather and a life lesson I never ever forgot. There’s no reason for us to live life so serious and mundane, we only are blessed with 1 life, why not enjoy it & live it to it’s fullest potential?
TreeFace T-shirt by Winky Boo
Who designs your tees and who is also involved in Winky Boo adventure?
Though I, Amy Fiedler and the owner/president and sole operator of Winky Boo, there are plenty of people who make this company work. I contract out for all work done for Winky Boo, as it is difficult being a brand new clothing company to have tons of employees on payroll. A college friend and artist, Rob and I collaborated on the artwork for the shirts. He would draw some, I would draw some, I would direct and have him add or subtract things from the drawing and we’d basically work back and forth until I thought it was complete. We brought on a great design company, WalkStar Entertainment to create our initial website when we first launched and assist in mocking up all our high res artwork. We since have made updates to our website and switched over the merchant and shopping cart service we use, using a freelance web designer, Erin Cheyne. We work with a great printing company out of Texas calling Pony Printing. All our shirts are American Apparel Wholesale. As far as all the details or any other little job that needs to be done, it’s done by my and only me. We work with accountants and have some friends who act as business mentors or managers, but in the end – I call the shots.
Is there a person or a company you look up to in what you do with your line?
The line wasn’t created having any other clothing company in mind. My personal style is pretty eclectic as I go from wearing dresses or skirts with heals to jeans and a tshirt; depends on my mood that day. When the idea came about for doing a clothing line, originally I wanted to do a bathing suit line. We actually drew up an entire collection until I realized that creating bathing suits would mean having buy the fabric and start from scratch. Hiring manufacturers and sewers, etc. The cost to start up a line like that was above and beyond what a T-shirt line would cost and so it seemed the more realistic idea would be to start with T-shirts and grow into bathing suits eventually. So really I can’t explain how the bathing suit designs turned into the T-shirts but somehow someway they did. Rob does a lot of comic book art and that’s just his natural ability and style, mixed with my style and you get something you’ve never seen before. Some sort of mix between an Eye Spy, a Comic Book and a beautifully created piece of artwork all combined into one T-hirt. It’s wearable art!
Elephant T-shirt by Winky Boo
What would you say – who is a typical Winky Boo-er? In other words – who mainly buys your stuff and what is their profile?
A typical Winky Boo-er is a mix of a lot of different interests and styles. You can’t really pin it down to one, but generally our market consists of skaters, surfers, artists, alternative emo, punk, rock, indie. Most people like to wrap all that up into calling us Indie. Which I like, I really like that description of us. I think people who are attracted to Winky Boo clothing like to have fun, have a great sense of humor, they don’t take things too seriously. Right now we sponsor about 6 bands and we have one band that plays experimental folk music, another that’s heavy metal, another that’s punk ,another that’s rock, and so on. So you see, it really ranges. We don’t judge, we don’t discriminate, just like the bands we sponsor, I in particular may not be too fond of one genre of music, but everyone has a dream and if they believe in themselves, we believe in them and if their personal style fits our brands style then we support them!
Why did you decide to go sponsoring a band / choose that way of one of the marketing strategies of your brand?
We initally were contacted by 2 bands several weeks ago about sponsorships. While gathering more information from them on their style and gigs they do we did some more research on promotions for clothing companies. It seemed like a wise business decision and the more we looked into it we found hundreds of articles talking about how it’s a known method in the industry so both parties gain from it.
Hats T-shirt by Winky Boo - worn by Last Of His Kind
What was the sponsorship deal between you and a band?
Typically the options are you can sponsor the band by financing them or sponsor them by sending them your clothing. Seeing as how they do travel and have quite a following of their own fans, the best fit was to send bands free clothing that they would in turn promote to their fans. They perform in the clothing, wear it in photoshoots for their albums and link up our website to their pages, ie: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc. We also have the priviledge of our logo being place on promotional fliers for when they perform concerts. So far our website traffic has increased drastically and our Facebook, Myspace and Twitter pages have become more popular.
Do you expect to broaden your line to other items, too?
As mentioned in one of my previous answers, my initial plan was to start a bathing suit line. I still plan to make bathing suits in the future. Right now the way the company is headed is we’re just riding the wave. Started with printing 4 of the 7 total designs created. Then winter hit, and took notice that alot of the brands out there we may be competing with or will hopefully 1 day be competing with had a variety of hats in stock. What a perfect idea for winter; they match the season, they can be priced lower and they’re cheaper for us to print! I’ve created several different types of designs for the hats and the plan is to start to get those printed or embroidered every couple of weeks or so and then as the warmer weather hits again I’ll work on the remainder of the shirts. I plan to do hoodies sometime next year and maybe even shoes! I’ll see where the wave takes us!
What’s the future looking like for Winky Boo from your perspective?
You know, retail is a slow business. If you’re a nobody, like me, and creating something you have faith in, it’s gonne be a long, hard, slow process. You have to have the time, the patience and the money to invest into your passion, your dream. Winky Boo only launched in August of 2010 and as the months have passed customers have increased, traffic increased, popularity (gettign our name/brand out there) increased. I’m not a celebrity, I can’t just get instant sales because I was on a show, like some of those reality show stars do these days. I’m a normal person with a vision and I have to work for it.
Thor T-shirt by Winky Boo
I work very hard, creating business relationships, advertising, marketing, branding, just getting the name out there. If it weren’t for people like you, bloggers who take to small companies and underground clothing brands and write about us, we’d be lost in translation. You can’t do it alone, although I may work alone most of the time, it’s the help of the customers, the fans of the bands we endorse, the bloggers, the reporters and so that increase our traffic which in turn increases our sales. The future for Winky Boo is bright. I don’t persue things and fail. I’m a strong woman and determined individual and I will not settle for failure. Sometimes you just know somethings going to be a success. But success doesn’t happen overnight. Slow and steady wins the race, always and those who fly up the charts real fast, they crash real fast. I’m very happy with the progress of Winky Boo as we steadily climb everyday, reaching broader horizens (ie: other countries) and I know that something big is coming! I hope by 2011 we’ll have some wholesale opportunities to get our clothing in some retail locations!
We’d like to add that Winky Boo partnered with Tee zine in creating a rocking mp3 compilation with all bands Winky Boo endorses. It’s gonna be free to download from our web-presence sites (Facebook and all…).
Like Amy’s story? Have your own? Or you just want to leave a comment how good this interview is? Well, by all means go ahead! And don’t forget to visit Winky Boo official website!
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