Customer Profile: How Agnes Sold Over 2,700 Tees in ONE DAY
Agnes K. is a small business owner with eight years of experience designing and selling her own t-shirts, and also a user of Backstory Prints for her business’s print-on-demand needs. A few days ago, a TikTok Agnes posted of one of her designs went viral, netting her over 2,700 units in sales in one day (that’s approximately $82K!). We caught up with her to discuss her experiences with the custom printing business.
**Disclaimer: Unfortunately due to the trend of POD store owners copying each other's work, we cannot share Agnes’s design or store name here - but we will say that she has drawn her inspiration from pop culture and focussed on primarily black and white tees in sizes from Small to 2XL.
Backstory Prints: So, how did you get into the t-shirt business? What drew you to it?
Agnes: My family has their own embroidery business, so the clothing industry is something I’ve always known. I started making shirts for myself and once I noticed other people liked my weird designs I was psyched.
BSP: You have such a unique style. Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
A: Pop culture was my life when I was a teen. I lived my life through “stan twitter” and fanfiction. Being a part of that world has heavily influenced what I make. I like to make things that kids like me would love to wear and get excited to receive.
BSP: How did you learn to make your designs? For example, what software do you use, and how did you learn to use it?
A: Literally just YouTube tutorials and Google! I took a graphic design class in college but dropped it because it was boring. I’ve always found self-teaching more effective for me than learning in a classroom setting.
The software I use is Photoshop. Everything you could imagine is on the internet. It took some time to get the hang of it, but once you learn the basics anything is possible.
BSP: I feel like that’s a pretty common story in this field! A culture of self-starters and self-teachers. How much of your business relies on skills you taught yourself?
A: About 70%. When I first started I had no idea what I was doing. I kind of just rolled with it. Once I got more serious about this I reached out to the people in my life with business experience.
BSP: So… tell me about what happened with TikTok 👀
A: I have no idea! I honestly just think it’s luck. The TikTok gods blessed me.
I basically just made a super duper basic video! I didn’t have any intention of it blowing up at all. I’ve always thought about making TikToks for my business because I’ve seen how much success it’s brought other small business owners. I thought the only way to do that was to make a super elaborate video, so I would just put it off. Then I was like, “Hey it’s Friday, I’m home and I’m literally not doing anything today. I should try that TikTok thing and attempt to be a functioning member of society.”
BSP: I think people are often held back by the idea that if they have to do something, it must be perfect. Meanwhile, your experience is a reminder that any attempt is better than none!
Aside from TikTok, what different techniques have you used to get your products in front of buyers in the past?
A: So far, I’ve relied on organic traffic. I’ve used Instagram, Etsy, Depop and my own site.
BSP: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the print-on-demand t-shirt business? For example, to yourself when you were starting out?
A: I would say the most cliche thing in the world, but do something you’re passionate about! Don’t make something you don’t care about, because that will make you so miserable in the long run. I’ve tried focusing on certain things just because I know they will sell, but have had zero interest in them personally. And it’s not as fulfilling. If it’s not made with love, what’s the point?
BSP: What platform did you make your 2,700 units of sales on?
A: Shopify! I have been using Etsy and Depop, as I said, for a long time now but got frustrated with all the fees involved in selling. I wanted something that was my own and so I started my own Shopify store in early December 2020. I think that marketplace-type sites like Etsy are great to get started with and I still have those accounts active– I just like the idea of being directly responsible for driving customers to my site and not having to rely on Etsy SEO (and of course not having to pay the 5% commission!)
BSP: Lastly, how did you work with Backstory Prints to fulfill over 2,700 orders and counting?
A: I’ve worked with Backstory Prints for a while now and I have always liked how they take my sales and customers very seriously. Since all these sales were done through Shopify, I gave their team access to my account (through a staff account) so that they could access order details, shipping names and addresses easily. From there, they literally took over and got it done.
I love that they have been able to execute my orders so seamlessly, and have made me feel that every one of my customers are like their own– even to the point of arranging special International Shipping rates for my orders. I can’t imagine any other POD going to these lengths to fulfill my business's needs.
In summary, our key takeaway from Agnes’s awesome story is to focus on a niche that you’re passionate about, something that you know a lot about and that you will be excited to wear yourself. As a POD store owner, we’re sure you’ve heard this 10,000 times– but finding and sticking to a niche is the key to building and growing a sustainable business!
We love the fact that Agnes tried something new in terms of marketing, namely TikTok. How many of us just continue marketing using the techniques and platforms we know, even though they bring us very little return (can anyone say Etsy Ads!) It’s about figuring out where your niche audience lives and ‘hangs out’ and appealing to them on their turf.
As you know, we’re still working on our Etsy and Shopify integration, but we’re here to help in the meantime. If there is any way we can make the ordering process simpler for you, let us know and we will try to accommodate you as much as we can.
In summary, Agnes’s story is not unique, and it shows how much crazy potential there is in this industry. Whether you're looking to get started in Print On Demand or to grow your current business, message us for further details on how Backstory Prints can help you get your awesome designs to your customers– and a 25% off code!