By Jess Krager
It all started back in 2003 as a hobby business in a small garage right here in Chico with a manual screen printing press. Three brothers had a vision to create a hassle-free, one-stop t-shirt shop for bands, organizations and businesses. And with the help of Chico State’s Student Business Plan competition sponsored by the Center for Entrepreneurship, the burgeoning Internet scene and the power of credit cards, their idea reached fruition and became InstaShirt.com.
Turns out, the Internet became the Reynolds brothers’ greatest tool for success. Though InstaShirt definitely maintains its ties to the Chico community by creating shirts for local bands and organizations, the majority of their business comes from areas all over the country. Initially Joe, Dan and Ben Reynolds created a simple website and utilized online classifieds such as Craigslist.com to get word about their business out to the masses. “I’d say at least 90-95 percent of our business comes from online sales,” says Dan Reynolds. And out of that large percentage of Internet sales, “ 55 percent goes to the furthest zones (of the country) all the way on the east coast” chimes in Joe Reynolds.
Over the years, that simple website has transformed into a completely hands-on approach to t-shirt printing. Customers need only to log on to the website to have access to a plethora of choices. What kind of apparel are you looking for? Shirts? Sweatshirts? Tank Tops? Would you like organic or neon colored? You also have the ability to upload your own images and create your own design right on the page. As you design, you can also keep tabs on the price rates for that particular design. “We’ve implemented a new vendor, a third party developer,” inputs Ben. “It makes it really to where anybody can design their own shirt literally in as little as 5 minutes if they want to,” elaborates Joe. “It’s probably one of the best available on the market right now.”
Though the Reynolds’ utilization of the Internet and their creative tweaks to their website certainly deserve the majority of the credit for the business’ success; the aid of Chico State’s entrepreneurial center made it possible for InstaShirt to purchase the equipment to process orders on a larger scale. After being awarded $5,000 in scholarship money, InstaShirt was able to buy more professional equipment, such as an automatic rotating screen printing machine and large drying machine. The money was great to help get the business jump-started, and with profits made from these systems, InstaShirt was recently able to buy a digital printer. The new digital printer allows the Reynolds to print bright, vivid colors on shirts and makes it to where the guys can now offer to do one-off print jobs if the customer only wants a shirt for themselves or a select few.
So for all you aspiring entrepreneurs out there, take in this friendly advice from one of your own, “ learn to use the Internet and learn to make your website.” says Joe. “ That has been, I would say, that was the number one thing for us.”
To learn more about InstaShirt’s services or to design a shirt of your own visit their website at www.instashirt.com. It’s fast, fun and easy to do-and did I mention you get FREE shipping with your order?