Saturday, September 26, 2009

LadyUmbrella in Glorious Black and White

Hello world, Rob here, reporting for duty...well, I'm still dying to find out if anyone reads this thing - really, if you do, if you get to the end of any of my wordy posts, please let me know...even if you just get to line 2 let me know...

Ok so, glorious black and my last post I mastered the art of inserting pictures, my foray into that art has proved timely as we got our first mention in a newspaper the other day..the Leinster Leader, a Kildare based weekly newspaper..sure, its no Wall Street Journal (like they'd write about quirky ladies t-shirts anyway) but it is our first mention in black and white so I'm happy to be able to share it with all our good readers out there...if you're out there...are you out there??

And, I'm going to be disciplined here and keep this blog short but not before I give a shout out to AlwaysThinkin a dynamite site I came across via the medium of twitter. These guys have kindly agreed to interview us to bring the word of LadyUmbrella to the masses...besides that they have a fine collection of all things good..really, check 'em out..

Finally, our competition is rip roaring along now, we've got over 40 entries already, some funny, some cheesy, some borderline sleazy but all greatly appreciated...don't miss out on the party and check the entries yourself at the LadyUmbrella Facebook Fanpage and sure whilst you're there you might as well enter...finish in ten words or less "Warning: LadyUmbrella may not keep you dry but..." - you know you want to win some LadyUmbrella t-shirts..

..and I'm done in no more than 4 paragraphs, a picture and a sentence - nice...
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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

LadyUmbrella T-Shirt Competition and Glam Rock..

Hey all, hope this post meets you all in good, the never ending day consisting of promoting LadyUmbrella Ladies T-shirts has taken a new and all together more giving approach..we've laucnhed our first t-shirt competition and are giving away 6 LadyUmbrella t-shirts to 3 lucky winners..see the details just to the left..We really want lots of you to enter so join us on theLadyUmbrella Facebook Fanpage and enter that way or else feel free to leave me a comment here..I'll make sure that it gets job I guess..

..So, what about the prizes?? Well, drum roll time but surprise surprise we are awarding LadyUmbrella t-shirts (of the winners choice)as prizes..In total we will have 3 winners each winning 2 t-shirts of their choice.. The t-shirts should look a little something like this LadyUmrbella is Away with the Birds...

Now, onto the glam I've said before I do like the rock and roll and the other night had the pleasure of seeing Eazy Tyger, a band who are putting the eazy back in sleazy..

These guys can put on a show, now, I may not be the biggest fan of their music (but it is good) but the show was incredible..I've been to lots of gigs and have never seen a band just rock out and have so much fun..everyone who was there was captivated..its fair to say these guys have some balls, take that as a metaphor or seriously - check out a show, tight pants don't lie like - and just rock out to the max..During the first song a string broke "No problem, we'll do it with just one guitar..or, anyone want to play air guitar with us, and I mean proper air shred guitar"..the singers plea got two "hairys" to jump on up stage and rock out with the guys..the whole show was recorded and will be shown on Mixtape (a quality site that shows podcasts of Irish bands, singers, songwriters and a whole host of other interesting things - nominated for 7 web awards, if you haven't heard of them yet you will soon)...So, on Eazy Tygers page you can check out their closing anthem, "One in the Chamber", about well, having balls..Thoroughly enjoyable band to watch and I'd recommend you check them if you want to be blown away by the return of glam rock, to Dublin if not the world..As the guys warned the crowd early on in the gig "We're more than Steel Panther than the Beetles" - that is a fact...A quick youtube search yielded a short clip of what they do...

Until next time, take care and I'll be sure to keep you posted on how the competition is going, any new LadyUmbrella developments or anything that I come across...
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Smörgåsbord of t-shirt this and that..

Hello world, avid readers, lost websurfers...Welcome to the fourth installment of LadyUmbrella quirky ladies t-shirts and life..I do apologise for the delay in getting around to writing another blog alas I was in Spain for a week...poor me - it was sunny in Spain, lots of tapas eaten, cold beers drank and in general good times had..back to Ireland now and back to the grind...

So, Spain, the was great..spending time with family and friends over there and trying to get a shop or two interested in selling our wares..and I think it was a successful, there is nothing concrete but we have some stores in mind and we can dream about having a little LadyUmbrella shop on one of the meandering and bewitching winding streets of the Gothic Area in Barcelona..the place is truly incredible, like something out of a fairytale, narrow cobbled streets snaking between, around and through all sorts of bizarre architecture - really nice..Whilst there we had hoped to meet up with a Swedish friend who works with a pretty damn good Swedish band called Industri Royal. One of the guitar players in the band wants to wear one of our t-shirts, LadyUmbrella is Friends With David Attenborough and we figured why not...rock and roll huh? in fact, heres a link now, a tune of theirs called Location, Location, Location - perhaps fitting considering Barcelona would be the perfect place for LadyUmbrella t-shirts...and its a pretty catchy, funky and cool tune...

In recent weeks it has dawned on me that LadyUmbrella has become my life..and I love it..between twitter (@ladyumbrellaltd - say hi), LadyUmbrella Facebook, LadyUmbrella MySpace and a whole gang load t-shirt forums, blogs and web traffic stat pages I've found that I'm spending about 17 hours a day with the company..and its great..With each passing day we are getting closer to launching and we're getting a whole lot of extras lined up like stickers and badges..these really are exciting times..

Other things of t-shirt interest for us are that there a few shops interested in talking to us about stocking LadyUmbrella which is incredible, well, I think so anyway...sure, for Nike or similar its just another day but when you start out with jack and zero and build it up it feels good, rewarding, satisfying...really, try it yourself...Unfortunately I can't disclose the shops yet but all will be revealed in due time...we also have a lot of pre orders for our t-shirts now..starting to wonder if we are ordering enough LadyUmbrella t-shirts for the first batch, time will tell I can however ensure you don't miss out on the limited edition first batch by leaving us a comment on our facebook page - go go go..

So, I mentioned badges..who would like one? In fact, if you pre order, you'll get a badge or about that? Get in touch, I'd love to know if anyone actually reads this or am I giving my fingers all this ache and agony for nothing??

Anyway, compared to my other "novels" this blog seems relatively short so I'll end it now, short and sweet...
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Part 2: Dragons Den type investment for a t-shirt company? - yay or nae..

Hello all,

I'm back once again (like the renegade master) to try and finish off what I started in the first part of this 2 part mini blog series regarding a Dragons Den style investment for small and start up t-shirt companies...I'm of the opinion that getting the silver spoon and leg up would curb what you can learn by starting out at the bottom, square one, Google Page Rank Zero.

So, I'll launch into the final points that I want to touch on about what I've learned since I started LadyUmbrella with my girlfriend a touch over a year ago...

- Packaging
When you get to the packaging stage one might be inclined to give oneself a pat on the back and deem the job done...I strongly disagree...the packaging is key to your product, be it delivered from an online sale or hanging on a rack in a shop.. Its similar to the old adage, "you never get a second chance to make a first impression", words which have rung in my ears many times before a job interview, and it is also true for your t-shirts..Go the extra mile..see the packaging as another chance to strengthen your, how should you ship your t-shirts? My suggestion would be to get some good, water proof plastic type envelopes so that your t-shirt is guaranteed to stay dry (we don't know how they'll be handled in transit or what may happen to them, give them every chance of being pristine upon arrival). Then, package the t-shirt itself. It could be placed in a see through protective kinda plastic or perhaps a nice paper the package why not give the customer something extra? - a badge, a postcard, stickers...anything that that might make them smile as they weren't expecting it - some chocolate? and also a personalized "Thank you XYZ for purchasing.." - give it the human for the outside of the envelope again, this a canvas. How many hands might this envelope pass through before it gets to the destination - why not make it look good and have your web address on it, a nice looking package might get some more business but crucially it will make the customer happy from the moment they get it...and if the customers likes your envelope how happy are they going to be if they get extra "goodies" and a personalized note?? ..possibly happy enough to tell a friend or two and you don't get better marketing than that...

- Marketing
To be honest, I know marketing is important but I just don't know enough about it to really try give any heads up or advice on it (actually, the same could be said for more or less all of the "help" I've tried to give - I hereby disclaim any liabilities hehe). I guess with marketing you have to be consistent and clever...consistent in what you are saying and clever in how you are saying it..What is the overall message of your brand or company and how can you best say it? Any catchy slogans that can capture the companies spirit, values or ideas that people can remember easily?...Then, how are you going to market it, via what mediums? Online, papers, billboards, tv, radio, etc...for me and most other start up t-shirt business with no moo-lah online has to be the way to go...

- Online
Its a big world out there...but, the web is even bigger...The internet is a ferocious and fast paced place, one minute no one has heard of you and then one big blog post and you're servers are getting crushed with traffic (or we can all dream at least)..I have found the web to be vital in trying to get LadyUmbrella t-shirts up and start with you need a website..there are lots online t-shirt stores that you can create an account with like Cafepress or similar. Initially you have to decide whether to go the cafepress route or to get your own domain name..for me, there was only ever one option, we had to get (and were thankful that no one else had got it)..I think if you have your own domain rather than a cafepress type one it just seems like you've put in extra effort to get your company somewhere (and in no way am I saying Cafepress sites are no good or that the people who use them took the easy option) but I just think you're own domain is a bit more professional..another bonus is that they can be easier for people to remember..

So, we have our what..assuming that you have your online store up and running the next most important thing is to get people to it and get them, how do you get people to your site? Step 1 - SEO the crap out of it, make sure you have you're keywords set and that crawlers can "read" it easily (just google SEO tips and put the kettle on). Step 2 - get active in the t-shirt community, blogs, forums and the people who already do what you want to do, you'll learn a lot (thats where I got my "knowledge" anyway)..Step 3 - get familiar with how google rates pages and get pages to link to your page..I guess, step 3 is just the marriage of step 1 and 2...the more links you have to your page the better (within the Google rules though)..To be honest, I could ramble on about the online section for weeks, just google, read, prepared to put in serious hours online and cross your fingers that it will pay off..

- Branding
Well, this is similar to marketing for me..I've no background in marketing/branding at all (the rockin' IT man here)..all I have are my own thoughts from what I've seen, read, observed and understood..I think to build a brand you need to get some foundations laid down..the foundations being (as I see it anyway), getting a good web domain so people have a place to go to find out about your brand. Be consistent in your designs (to a degree) especially at the start..try get one thing that is unique to your company/brand and shout it from the hilltops.. Distinguish yourself from your competitors with your USP (fancy lingo I learned on Dragons Den, unique selling point) so that you stand out...once you have the good foundations you can then experiment...kinda like in the music world, the bands first album has got to be good and kick ass, the second (the dreaded second) should be similar to the first and expand on the bands sound..if its a good second album generally the band will have cemented their fan base and can then try and create a few jazz oddities on their 3rd album..

- Selling
The final part of the process...without sales the circle just isn't complete and will quickly fall in upon itself..I hope to report back to you soon with wonderful stories of LadyUmbrella sales soon and let you know what I've learned about how to we're awaiting our stock I'm still yet to sell...although, one thing I have learned is that you can take pre-orders (plug plug - you can pre order your LadyUmbrella t-shirts by leaving a comment ), so why not do that? try create a bit of a "buzz" about your product before D-Day..get your mock ups online and let people "rate" them..offer them a 10% discount on their first order if they rate a tee or something (plug plug - you can get a 10% discount on your first LadyUmbrella order by voting for us here and leaving a facebook comment on our fanpage here)...I guess, what I'm trying to say with regards to sales is make it your job - do not miss a chance to tell someone about what you are selling or what you are going to sell..Your product should be your passion and your life - so tell people about it...over...and over...and over...

Alright, so, another long, rambling blog but its done now...Part 1 and 2 in the can and this, I'm sure you'll be glad to hear, will not become a trilogy..I'll talk about something else next time...I don't know'll just have to wait and see...

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Dragons Den type investment for a t-shirt company? - yay or nae..

Hello world, 2nd blog, exciting times...hehe, I'll try make it briefer than my first one...

..well, I've just watched the final episode in the latest edition of the UK version of the Dragons Den...what an inspirational show I think..a show that shows with a decent idea, some hard work and research, business acumen and real desire it is possible to get a large investment and some serious expertise which would get your business up and great would that be if you were trying to start a t-shirt company??

But then, I started thinking...sure, having lots of money would be great and would make a t-shirt company a lot easier to get going but having a ton of cash initially might slow down the learning curve as it were..the DIY side of getting a company going which has really started to consume me, is absolutely fascinating..anyone else suffering from a similar affliction? enjoying the trials and tribulations of the t-shirt world...

As I don't have a wad of cash and the expertise of a Dragon I've had to just put in a lot of man hours to fill the void..tI'll now briefly list the things that I have learned and done in the last few months to try get LadyUmbrella up and running..

- Idea
Get a decent idea, be it for a series of shirts, a collection or once off shirts, make sure its a good idea..but then, what is a good idea? Ideas and t-shirts in particular are so open to interpretation and totally subjective that not everyone will agree with your idea. One day you may get ego swelling props and crushing and scathing criticism the next but for an idea to be given the chance to become reality you need to believe in it...not to a foolish extent, not if all the research you have done says there is no demand and you're idea is continually being berated, if that is the case it may be time to move on..if however, you're getting a blend of responses then believe in the idea and continue..

- The Tee
Make sure its good. Don't settle. Don't do anything half assed. We have gone through so many samples and stages with LadyUmbrella to get to where we are now...we didn't settle with our first concept, sure, we liked it and lots of other people did too but we weren't 100% behind it...don't be scared to say no to your screen printer or t-shirt supplier, tell them exactly what you want and until the produce it don't accept..If it happens that they give you exactly what you specified but the reality is that your idea isn't where you wanted it to be then rethink your idea..evolve it, roll with it, expand on it...thing big with it...or, thats what we are trying to do with LadyUmbrella t-shirts anyway...

- How to specify your tee
This has been one of the most painstaking things for us at LadyUmbrella..coming from an I.T background measuring t-shirts is not something I had any idea about...Google is there though, google will help, it always does...if you need to measure the arm hole depth of a t-shirt, the upper thigh, the lower tight, the hem yada yada - do it...Don't assume that your manufacturer will know what you want...try get samples or similar styles as reference for your manufacturer...for your artwork get down and dirty with Pantones..the PMS (Pantone Matching System) is what screen printers use to determine the exact colour of the artwork- use a swatch book to get the exact colour or you can find the pantone from bear in mind though that generally monitors are all calibrated differently so the colour you see may not actually be the same when printed - get the book or a sample to ensure you're got the right colour...Measure you're designs..measure their orientation from the hem, the neck and the sides of the t-shirt..sketch it out with the measurements overlaid on a mockup - you do this then you'll get the product you want..

- Finish the tee
Personally, I'm a fan of neck me, they say that the person who made the t-shirt cared enough to put their name on it clearly and went the extra mile to get a kick ass t-shirt...Neck labels are a great place to put a web address, slogan or some words to make the customer thing...they are also another way of getting creative and to put your logo..Make sure your customer never forgets who they have bought the t-shirt from...There are lots of other ways of finishing tees but my favourite is a neck do you finish your tees?

I must apologise..I've had a quick scroll up and am horrified at the length of this blog already..I had intended to make it a shorter my next blog I'll try to discuss what else I've learned to date regarding t-shirts - packaging, selling, marketing, branding and online...Hope there was something of use in this to some of you out there...let me know...
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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Heuston: We Have Lift Off (t-shirt blog lift off)

Hello world,

Well, first thing I'm going to do before I launch into this blog is to introduce myself, I don't know if its customary to do that in blogs or not but I'll be polite and do it anyway..

I am Rob, 26 years old, living in Dublin, Ireland and currently starting to run a t-shirt business called LadyUmbrella..."t-shirt business?" you say - already intrigued huh?

Well, to get to this stage I've avoided all the shortcuts, gone down many long and winding roads (which I'll divulge in future blogs, oh the stories) and pursued different things...So, how did I stumble upon the t-shirt business - not from anything I studied anyway...

When I finished school I went onto performance music college for a 2 year diploma..I rocked my socks off there in a band called Made in Taiwan and made some life long buddies..the 2 years there were all too short and the good times that were had there were unimaginable: being on stage in a pretty good band, meeting new people, "chillin", being around creative/musical people and having a cool bunch of teachers and lecturers who just, to their very core, lived and "vibed" with the music...they were phenomenal times where I met life long friends (like this guy, Richie, who played bass in M.i.T and also works with me in the LadyUmbrella business - here is his blog) and I fondly recall all the sweet rockage...The course was truly great and although the credentials I gained from it might not have been stellar, it was wonderfully put by one of our lecturers as we were leaving for the last time "You've gained some very important and useful life skills"....Rock on!!!

Then, once I obtained my diploma in music I did what all budding rockstars do and went on to do a degree in, eh, I.T...why I did this I'm still not sure...I guess it was a combination of A) Being able to type B) Having enough points to get accepted to the college C) In the back of my mind (even though I was wearing purple flared cord pants at the time - no, they weren't in fashion) I figured getting a degree and living the student life for 4 more years would be a good idea..set myself up for life as it were so that, in case and just in case the rockin' didn't work out, I'd have something to fall back onto..

Well, I did my time...4 years of I like computers now? - no...can I still type - yes...would I do it again - its a coin toss...I learned a whole heap about computers and got a good degree but sitting in front of a computer all day was just not for me (blogging and facebooking are totally different though, ye?)...I got a job in computers when I graduated and lasted for....drumroll...1 week..I e-mailed my boss on the Saturday just letting him know that I wouldn't be back - one week was long enough to solidify the fact that computers were not for me...

Since then I've had spells as a door to door salesman, a fund accountant, and a band manager..all interesting in their own right but I won't go into to them at length at the minute...ultimately, the key point to note is that I've found my way into the realm of t-shirts...

How? Well, I've been unemployed for a while, not lazy or being a spunge, but just trying to see what will fit for me..Being my own boss is the, how could I do this, be my own boss and live the dream...I fortunately came across a Spanish designer, befriended her and started going out with her...turned out she, amongst other things that she is wonderful at, could draw and photoshop like no one I'd ever seen before..

So, about a year ago she had some sketches and did her magic and made them appear in photoshop (its not magic really, I know that, I have a degree in I.T hehe)...the designs were pretty narly and the concept and name, LadyUmbrella, were also pretty interesting..I did some online research and created a survey...went and begged people to do my survey (not just friends but randomers, friends tell you what you want to hear) and got some pretty positive results...We then decided to have a good go at it and see if we can set up a t-shirt company.

We are a year down the road now...the designs have been rejigged numerous times, tears have been shed, set backs have been met, google has been utilised to the max and many many hours have gone into, we are online at and Facebook (feel free to "fan up") and are just weeks away from getting our stock (how many weeks, we're not quite sure but we wait patiently/frustratingly) and are getting giddy about our launch..

Finally, what is this blog about? We'll, I'd like to think I've learned a bit in last year or so about t-shirts and hope to divulge that to whoever may be reading (please say hi or leave a comment if you read this, otherwise my finger ache is for nothing)...Also hope to tell some interesting stories and post the rare gem of a Youtube link when I find made me laugh...hard...I also hope to let the world know about how LadyUmbrella and our t-shirts are progressing as that is what I do now - 18 hours a day, 7 days a week...would I change it for an I.T. job? - no...for a fund accounting job? - no...for a door to door sales job? - be a rockstar? - quite possibly...

On that note...

Rock on...
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