You probably remember that guy or gal from college who roamed the dormitory halls, the parking lot, and the bleachers before every big game hawking snarky and ironic T-shirts. John Anton was one such guy.
“In 1985, while I was a student at Arizona State University it happened that my fraternity was having a party that weekend.
So I designed a racy T-shirt based on our rival school’s mascot — the USC Trojan — paid for the shirts with a cash advance on my credit card, and within 20 minutes of selling, I had made a $2,000 profit. I vowed to never work for anyone again.
I continued selling T-shirts for every football game for the rest of my time there. I even hired a team to sell shirts in the parking lot. By my senior year, I was driving a Mercedes.
We launched DesignAShirt.com as an e-commerce site. We thought we could give our customers, wherever they were, the ability to customize their order by themselves online.
I hired a team of freelancers and we took what we saw as the best of the Internet at that time — web sites like Coke and Lands’ End — and improved upon them. We went live in 2003 and the orders started pouring in, usually between 20 and 30 every day at an average of $400 a pop.
Our minimum order is for six shirts, but if a customer begs enough, we’ll print them a single one.
“Today, we’ve come full circle. I’ve launched a third business, called Shirt Software, where we are licensing our custom software to the growing number of competitors out there. I want anyone to have the chance to live the dream.”
Photo by Anton Sports.