We all know that the secret sauce to any successful business is the ability to market strategically. Tees2UrDoor, an eCommerce custom monogrammed tee-shirt company, has grown exponentially in the last years when they decided to transform from a brick and mortar shop in rural Nederland, Texas to creating an online presence–a website and a social media profile- in 2013. The two owners and co-founders, Lloyd Varnado and Maccie Varnado, are quite content with their decision to go online. They say this success came “practically overnight,” attracting the attention of thousands of customers from around the country. In fact, said Maccie, “The team went to bed after completing the website, and woke the next day to find 10,000 new followers. We could not believe how quickly things were taking off.”
With this success also came necessary growth–including the need for a 20,000 square foot production facility in Texas, a 6,000 foot photography studio and even a full-time staff. The team does their own design, printing, and distribution. But how much did their strategic marketing and website presence have to go with this success? And what are their secrets?
Disrupt Magazine chats with Maccie about her background, her marketing and eCommerce strategies, and how she and her husband have turned a small hobby into a successful nationwide online store.
OL: Tell us about your background and how you got into the tee designing business.
MV: I have a degree in art, and my husband has a chemistry background. When we met, I was not working in the “art” field. My first art love has always been architecture, but the t-shirt art did intrigue me! I had very little knowledge of the whole process but I was eager to learn! For me, art just comes naturally, when designing architecture or garments. It was a perfect fit, his chemistry background and my love for art! We have been creating fabulous works of art for over 20 years!
OL: How does your product differ from other t-shirt companies? What is your target reach, and what is your ultimate goal with your work?
MV: Our business is unique from the perspective that we are vertical. Meaning we do the design; we print, package and sell to the consumer. We do not have a middle man. We see a hot trend one day, and we are wearing it the next day! Our target audience is the 30-40-year-old mom with an eye for affordable fashion! We strive to design and produce highly functional items while keeping our costs down. We are also very conscious of our clothing fit. We believe online shopping is simply amazing; however,, the consumer needs to be confident of the fit. So all of our products have a similar fit while basing our measurements on a standard t-shirt. Our goal is to have a T2D community that is confident with our stylish products and the fit.
OL: Your success is so enviable. It was quick and, pardon our word, but looked…easy! (We know it wasn’t.) What were your secrets to starting as a small store in Texas and expanding to the degree you have?
MV: Know every aspect of your business! We believe that if we, as owners, know the time and effort and the issues associated with every facet of our business, we will be successful. We put the time in, in the trenches! We also did not hire a third party without a clear understanding of their actual work. We often asked them to show us the steps required in completing the tasks that they were doing. We do have a staff now that does all of the day-to-day tasks, but we can provide excellent guidelines for them.
OL: Any secrets of strategy—especially marketing strategy—you can share?
MV: Be fair, be competitive. Probably the most important thing is to be creative. Customers love a well-put-together sale or series of sales. While being fair, competitive,, and creative, don’t forget to be simple! Confusing sales are usually not successful! A great quote comes to mind, if it were easy, everyone would do it!
OL: How do you believe you can disrupt the way tee production is done, and how have you been innovative in the industry?
MV: A problem in our industry is open stock. During the pandemic, suppliers were selling off their goods, but they were not replenishing them. Now, we are left with a huge shortage of t-shirts and ancillary items. We have gone to our top manufacturers and have been able to order directly from them, bypassing the distributor. We order and warehouse our own stock, which gives us an edge! We forecast our t-shirt needs and can have them in-house and ready for production!
OB: Where do you see in Tees 2 Ur Door in 1 year? 5 years? 10 years?
MV: Tees2urdoor in 1 year is 5% better than this year. I say 5% because we did have a huge surge of sales with the pandemic. We have had some major growing pains to sustain the 45% growth we experienced last year! In the next 5 to 50 years we want to concentrate on becoming a total brand. We want to improve our shopping experience, customer service,, and all facets of Tees2urdoor. We want to carry a complete line of family clothing. Designing for mom, dad, kids,, and even the dogs!