From Garage To T-Shirt Printing Powerhouse

  • 4 min read

In the mid 2000s, the founder of JCG Apparel saw a crying need among university Greek systems.

Girl in white MSU shirt
Credit: JCG Apparel Instagram

Custom designed fraternity & sorority event t-shirts are beloved by members as wearable souvenirs from their biggest & best soirees. But getting those ubiquitous shirts on hundreds of backs was a hangover-worthy headache for all involved.

Local screen printers mostly served these university markets. Their graphic design experience was often minimal, equipment old and inconsistent, order minimums were high, and the worst offense… the entire order had to be paid for in advance before the first shirt is printed. This meant Greek organizations could have to front upwards of $1,500; then hope members paid for their shirts after hastily scribbling their names and sizes on an order form.

Chapter representatives found themselves chasing down members for money and the organization would often end up filling the deficit with its own funds to place the order. Shirts would arrive weeks later, disheveled and unorganized and were routinely stolen by members who did not pay for them. It was a problematic process from every angle, and a big money loser for the chapter.

Stack of University of Alabama shirts
Credit: JCG Apparel Instagram
Change the model, then write the code.

As a former fraternity t-shirt chairman, the founder of JCG Apparel saw the need to turn the entire process on its head. He put his engineering background to work, developing a brand new workflow–starting with the customer experience, on through delivery.

His vision? No more crumbled order forms in chapter meetings (and the series of calamities that would follow); instead, he planned to post the design online in a private store for a short window of time allowing individual members to order by credit card. Once the ordering window closed, shirts would be meticulously printed on new equipment, labeled with each member’s name & size, individually bagged (to combat stealing), and express-shipped to the organization for distribution.

Under the new model, organizations could up-charge the shirts (if they chose) and even make a few dollars. Either way, the days of losing money on poorly designed, slowly-shipped tees that often went missing were over.

Just one problem… A web application with that level of highly-customized functionality did not exist.

Enter Genin Media

We met with the owner to talk about his vision and how he wanted to be different. Little did we know that, together, we were building a model that would revolutionize the industry.

While the initial buildout took only a few months, we were regularly improving on a fully customized web-based system with not only the unique customer-facing components, but also a robust backend to handle a wide range of business operations. From invoicing to marketing, payroll to print shop workflow — the system we built from the ground-up handled it all.

So… Did it work?
Girls in Ole Miss t-shirts in the Grove
Credit: JCG Apparel Instagram

JCG Apparel’s sales grew significantly year-over-year. The garage was in the rear view mirror and a state-of-the-art print warehouse was built to handle the increased volume. Hundreds of thousands of orders were processed through the web system annually, representing millions of dollars in sales. Retail stores were developed as an added concept, taking the business from entirely online to a hybrid online/retail experience in SEC college towns’ most foot-trafficked downtown areas.

JCG Apparel eventually merged with B-Unlimited and continues their operations serving hundreds of thousands of college-aged customers and their families; both online and in their 5 retail stores under the B-Unlimited brand.

The takeaway

Genin Media doesn’t just briefly talk with clients and start building. We have experience in business and legal consulting, as well, that goes to work with us on every project. We learn each client’s business model and their vision, make suggestions where appropriate, and build out solutions that perfectly fits the client’s unique needs.

We talk in detail about processes and goals. Sales goals, customer goals, employee goals, growth goals–where does the client want to be in one year, five years, ten years? We are not here to build a quick website and check the digital box. We are the client’s online marketing and operations partner. Our solutions are designed to truly put the digital space to work for the client so our effort quickly pays for itself and is rocket fuel for client growth. Helping businesses grow is our passion.

Let us help make your business or organization the next JCG Apparel story. Ready to get started? Reach out to us.