Beyond the Pitch

Print Syndicate, LLC: Creating Trendy Apparel and Dozens of Jobs

When was the last time you heard about a technology-based company hiring dozens of artists in less than a year?

That’s what’s happening at Print Syndicate, an ecommerce firm that is in the business of self-expression.

And, considering the company’s rapid growth, self-expression is a great place to be.

Columbus-based Print Syndicate and its sister company, Origin Makers, an on-demand printing company, have grown from less than a half-dozen jobs 18 months ago to more than 80 employees. The plan is to exceed one-hundred employees by summer’s end.

Vertically integrated business model

Print Syndicate observes what’s trending on social media, turns those trends into digital art, and then sells those designs on printed objects like tee shirts and other apparel, phone cases, pillows, tote bags, and blankets. Origin Makers produces most of the products to ensure the highest levels of quality.

“We are having a great time with our business model,” said co-founder Tanisha Robinson, a serial entrepreneur who has founded multiple successful companies.

“It’s only possible because of the technology and speed to market and by dealing with American producers and suppliers. That gives us a lot of flexibility to iterate our products on a daily basis,” Robinson said.

Each of Print Syndicate’s brands have a different demographic

Print Syndicate sells B-to-C consumer products through three ecommerce websites, www.lookhuman.com, www.activateapparel.com, and www.mericamade.com, loaded with clever and trendy items.

While many of us might “think” we could come up with a cool design or tee-shirt statement, that’s not necessarily the best premise upon which to build a new company.

Instead, Print Syndicate hires top-notch designers and artists. Lots of them. Print Syndicate currently has 25 artists on board with a dozen more starting over the next few weeks.

“The premise that everyone is an artist who can create a tee-shirt that people actually want to buy or wear is folly. We rely a lot on the talent of our people to assess and evaluate which trends we are going to pursue,” Robinson said.

Market intelligence and functional expertise make up Print Syndicate’s “secret sauce”

Apparel brands rise and fall every day. Making a scalable business out of terrific designs is not as simple as it may sound.

“Trends are happening faster and faster,” Robinson said. “People have short attention spans. They want to express themselves in unique ways. Marketing influence is different than it was even five years ago. Today there are eighteen-year-old girls on Instagram with millions of followers convincing people of the next look in fashion. It’s not only Vogue and fashion bloggers anymore.”

Robinson, her business partner Print Syndicate’s co-founder Michael Limes, a web developer and entrepreneur, recognized a clear business opportunity in demand fulfillment and they had a sense about what they could do differently.

“A lot of great business ideas are not totally new, but are improvements on the way things are done now. We have found lots of opportunity in taking an existing model and tweaking it in a way that aligns with the market,” Robinson said.

“If you know how to understand what is going on, the Internet has a wealth of information about what people are into,” said Robinson. “Our approach, business model, and functionality are unique, based on our expertise and a customized technology platform that gathers intelligence from the Internet.”

Robinson says that although others have attempted to copy the Print Syndicate model, the design, customers service, and quality of Print Syndicate’s brands sets them apart.

“We started our own fulfillment to ensure the quality of work that we wanted. We recruit world-class artistic talent, and invest in a lot of demographic and brand work,” Robinson said. “From our content and graphics designers, to our graphics associates, to our shipping team, we put out the best quality on-demand products out there.”

Plus, Robinson says that when she or Limes need advice, they seek advice.

“Columbus is one of the best cities for entrepreneurs,” she said, “because we have so much access to many of the top business leaders in this community and in the country.”

 

 

 

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