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T-Shirts with a Social Heart? Entrepreneur Jon Penn of Goodfibres.com paints the picture…

T-Shirts designed by artists. Voted for by the online Community & the top designs get the chance to have their art-work made into real T-shirts and sold to the public… 

With Creative Arts students finding it tough to find paid employment and not even choosing to study the Arts at University, maybe this could the way forward for students to get their big break. TheEmployable, keen to find out more, spoke to Entrepreneur Jon Penn of GoodFibres.com to get the low down….

Jon, thank you taking the time to speak to TheEmployable. Can I just start by saying, I love what you are doing, I might even have a go at designing a t-shirt myself! Can you explain the process and also do you have to be a ‘qualified’ artist or designer to submit work onto the site?

Thanks, we are definitely excited by the designs that have been submitted so far and the reaction we have had from our customers. Goodfibres is an ethical fashion brand that provides a platform for artists and up and coming artists to upload and submit graphic designs. Once the designs have been uploaded other artists within the Goodfibres community will rate the designs and will give feedback as to how the design could be improved if at all. Every week we look at the most popular designs and then turn them into funky t-shirts paying the artist a 10% royalty on every sale.

Where did the idea come from for the site – do you have a background in retail or art & how quickly did you take your idea forward as a potential business?

It was about a year ago that we were looking online for a site that offered a good selection of t-shirts that had great designs and something a little different from the high street.

During our research we came across a few sites in the US but found that although they had some good designs the quality was quite poor and you had to pay a lot to get them shipped over. It was at this point we thought there might be an opportunity but rather than build the traditional model of employing in-house designers we thought it would be a great idea to build an online community of artists.

One thing we noticed whilst building Spinning Hat, our product design company, was we were finding that there are so many talented artists out there but many of them were never really taught on how to promote themselves in a big way so we thought by building a platform we could do this for them.

Before setting up Goodfibres Damon and I were already successfully selling products to the same demographic through Spinning Hat. Fashion apparel and Funky T-Shirts are always popular items for this target audience and are often sold into existing retailers that Spinning Hat supplies. The plan was to create a complimentary brand able to draft on Spinning Hat’s success whilst also helping us to enter new markets and leverage additional retail accounts. The plan was to create a sexy retail product that had a bigger purpose and story beyond the actual tangible item.

If you can explain the donation part – do you physically donate a t-shirt to the ‘charitable sector’ if a T-shirt is sold?

For every sale made we make an in-kind donation to communities around the world. We really want to ensure that everyone within our supply chain has a fair deal in the process and by reinvesting back into these communities we hope to have a sustainable business model that will go from strength to strength.

 At what point did you decide the core values of Goodfibres would have ‘ethical’ unique selling

I think today consumers will expect more from brands and will want to see they are doing more than just making huge profits at the expense of someone else or the environment. Goodfibres will aim to be as transparent through the supply chain as possible and will look to empower its customers & artists by getting them involved in the design process. At the end of the day the customer knows what it wants so who better to have decide what you make next? Having said all that we still need to provide a good quality product that our customers will want to keep coming back for.

How well have the artist community bought in to your website – I can imagine this could be a good little cash earner for a young Art Graduate?

We haven’t been going for very long but in the short space of time we have managed to get over 5000+ artists to register with us and close to 500+ artwork submissions so its looking very promising. We are also looking to make some great improvements to the user experience through the website to allow greater interaction.

 What next for goodfibres – do you plan to extend the brand and move on from just t-shirts?

We’re looking to bring out a wider range of apparel in the coming weeks and months, some fresher designs and generally focus on producing more and more Cool T Shirts at Goodfibres.

I for one look forward to seeing more designs on the site and maybe I will have a sneaky go myself! Check out the Goodfibres site here.

Why not check out some of our other interviews here.


One Response to “T-Shirts with a Social Heart? Entrepreneur Jon Penn of Goodfibres.com paints the picture…”

  1. I shall look forward to seeing what designs Goodfibres chooses next! You never know, I might even have a go at submitting a t-shirt design myself…

    Posted by Susan | February 13, 2012, 6:00 pm

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