Teespring

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Spring
Spring (e-commerce platform) logo.svg
Type of site
E-commerce
FoundedAugust 2011; 11 years ago (2011-08)
Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.
Headquarters
Founder(s)
  • Walker Williams
  • Evan Stites-Clayton
URLhttps://spri.ng

Teespring (Spring, Inc.) is an American company that operates Spring, a social commerce platform that allows people to create and sell custom products.[1] The company was founded in 2011 by Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton in Providence, Rhode Island.[2] By 2014, the company had raised $55 million in venture capital from Khosla Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz.[3] In 2018 Spring launched its merch shelf integration in partnership with YouTube, enabling creators to sell their products directly below video content, and expanded this business model with similar integrations for Twitch, Instagram, TikTok, etc. in the years following. Over the past few years, Teespring has had to make significant reforms to its safety operations in response to criticism over apparel that promoted violence and racist messaging.[4] In 2019 Chris Lamontagne became CEO of Spring. In 2021, Teespring was rebranded as Spring.

Business model[edit]

Individuals create campaigns in order to sell custom products on Teespring. Campaign creators are expected to design and market the product themselves. Teespring fulfills orders on campaigns that have reached a minimum sales goal (called "tipped" campaigns), and ships items to the buyers.[5] Products are printed or manufactured in various screen-printing facilities.[2] Teespring handles distribution of the products and customer service. Teespring offers various apparel such as T-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, leggings and children's wear.

History[edit]

Brown University students Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton first attempted to create a company linking students with internships called Jobzle in 2010.[6] When the popular, student-oriented Providence dive bar Fish Co. appeared to be going out of business in 2011, they designed T-shirts that said "FREE FISHCO".[7] Unable to pay to print a batch of T-shirts, they created a one-page website where the shirts could be pre-ordered.[8] While they needed 200 orders to cover their costs, they sold over 400 T-shirts, making $2,000 for themselves.[6]

After receiving numerous requests from other organizations asking for a custom campaign, Walker and Evan decided to pursue the concept of crowdfunded custom apparel full-time.

Rhode Island angel investors Bill Cesare and Mark Weiner invested the first $600,000 in seed funding. The company officially launched in October 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island.[2]

Growth[edit]

In October 2012, the company announced they had reached over $500,000 in monthly sales.[2] In March 2013, the company reported $750,000 in monthly revenue and a 50% month-over-month growth rate.[9]

In December 2013, Teespring was accepted into the start-up accelerator Y-Combinator which is based in Mountain View, California. Within two weeks of finishing the three-month accelerator, Teespring raised another $1.3 million including $500,000 from Sam Altman, then president at Y-Combinator.[1] In January 2014, Teespring closed a Series A round of $20 million from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Andreessen partner Laars Dalgaard, formerly of SuccessFactors, led the investment, his first with the firm.[citation needed] In November 2014, partner Keith Rabois joined the company's board[3] and the company announced the closure of its Series B funding round with $35 million from Khosla Ventures and also including Andreessen.[10]

A new manufacturing facility in Kentucky was expected to create hundreds of jobs[10] and by 2015, Teespring had expanded to around 300 employees in the United States.[11] The company had employed 120 workers in Providence before reducing the number to 52 by June 2015. By 2016, the entire Rhode Island staff had been laid off and the company announced plans to close its office there.[12]

Criticism[edit]

Teespring has been criticized for creating apparel that promotes violence and includes racist messaging. While the company claims that it monitors designs for offensive content, it has continually gained attention for its controversial designs.[4]

2017[edit]

In May 2017, Teespring caused controversy by selling T-shirts that featured the words, "Black Women Are Trash," resulting in many Twitter users calling for a boycott of the platform.[13][14][15] Teespring's director of seller success, Brett Miller, responded, "Once we learned of the error we immediately took steps to remove all content in question and ban the offending seller from our platform. We have since fixed the issue."[16]

In August 2017, Teespring was blamed for selling products claiming to "reclaim" the swastika, considered a symbol of hate.[17][18] KA Design listed rainbow swastika designs on Teespring in an attempt to rebrand the contested symbol used by the Nazis.[19] Jewish groups called for a boycott of Teespring following news of the controversial products.[20] Another T-shirt offered on the site in October 2017 bore the message "Eat Sleep Rape Repeat".[4]

In November 2017, Walmart removed a shirt bearing the words "Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some assembly required" from its website, following a complaint from Radio Television Digital News Association, a journalist advocacy group. The shirt was listed on Walmart's website through Teespring (as a third-party seller). Time magazine reported that at the time, according to the U.S. Press Freedom Tracker,[21] there had been 35 physical attacks on journalists so far in 2017.[22] An analysis by USA Today found that the site was selling T-shirts reading "Hitler did nothing wrong" and one with an image of Bill Cosby paired with the slogan "drinks on me ladies".[4]

2018[edit]

In April 2018, the company came under fire for providing items for sale that celebrated Dylann Roof, a neo-Nazi mass murderer.[23]

In June 2018, an article by Alex Dalbey in The Daily Dot detailed criticism on social media of Teespring for pulling a line of T-shirts featuring the term "TERFs" (short for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists). The most notable design stated "Fuck TERFs".[24] Teespring said the T-shirt "violates our Hate Speech section of our acceptable use policy".[24]

In 2018, a Women's March spokesperson told CNN that "many of these fake pages are used to sell merchandise, with the proceeds benefiting individuals instead of our movement. The efforts to capitalize on movement work isn't new, but it is frustrating, particularly as we make an effort to only sell ethically sourced and produced merchandise — a rule these imposter pages don't abide by."[25]

2020[edit]

Following the death of Caroline Flack in February 2020, Teespring received criticism for selling counterfeit versions of the "Be Kind" T-shirts created by Leigh Francis to raise money for mental health charity The Samaritans. Teespring received criticism for allowing the sale of the counterfeit T-shirts to go ahead, preventing the charity from receiving funds.[26] [27]

In August 2020 Teespring reported that the word 'antifa' was in violation of their acceptable use policy.

2021[edit]

On January 6, 2021, the US Capitol was invaded by rioters. In a viral photo, one rioter is wearing a Camp Auschwitz T-shirt. On January 11, 2021, Teespring removed and apologized for the sale of Camp Auschwitz shirts on their platform.[28]

Rebranding[edit]

On February 1, 2021, Teespring announced they were transitioning to a new brand name, Spring.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Rich, Nathaniel. Silicon Valley's Start-Up Machine The New York Times. May 2, 2013.
  2. ^ a b c d Perez, Sarah. Teespring Wants To Be The Place Where You Can Crowdfund Anything, Starting With T-Shirts TechCrunch. October 11, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Konrad, Alex. Teespring Says It's Minting New Millionaires Selling Its T-Shirts, Raises $35 Million Of Its Own Forbes. November 18, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d Weise, Elizabeth (December 1, 2017). "'Rope. Tree. Journalist': Walmart yanks lynching T-shirt made by controversy-steeped Teespring". USA Today.
  5. ^ Dumas, John Lee. "271: Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton Talk T-shirts Via Teespring". Entrepreneur On Fire. Retrieved March 12, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Bramson, Kate (November 24, 2014). "Founders of R.I. startup Teespring see broader lessons in their business success". Providence Journal.
  7. ^ Furst, Miriam (February 2, 2011). "Fish Co. goes belly up". Brown Daily Herald.
  8. ^ Wohlsen, Marcus (November 18, 2014). "These Guys Made a T-Shirt. Now Silicon Valley Is Giving Them Millions". Wired.
  9. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Andreessen Horowitz Invests $20M In Custom Apparel Platform Teespring". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 25, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Perez, Sarah (November 18, 2014). "Teespring Raises $35 Million Series B From Khosla Ventures As It Prepares To Expand Beyond Apparel". TechCrunch.
  11. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Custom Apparel Platform Teespring Acquires London-Based Fabrily To Expand Internationally". TechCrunch. January 28, 2015.
  12. ^ Perez, Sarah (January 29, 2016). "Custom Apparel Shop Teespring Lays Off Staff, Exits Providence". TechCrunch.
  13. ^ Lasker, Alex (May 10, 2017). "Store apologizes for selling 'Black Women Are Trash' shirts". AOL.
  14. ^ Abrams, Hannah (May 10, 2017). "Teespring's 'Black Women Are Trash' Shirt Sparks Outrage". Promo Marketing Magazine.
  15. ^ Solé, Elise (May 8, 2017). "Clothing Company Apologizes for 'Black Women Are Trash' T-Shirts". Yahoo! Style.
  16. ^ Weise, Elizabeth (May 9, 2017). "Clothing Company Apologizes for 'Black Women Are Trash' T-Shirts". USA Today.
  17. ^ Neuman, Scott (August 7, 2017). "Company's Line Of Rainbow-Themed Swastika T-Shirts Backfires". NPR.
  18. ^ "Teespring removes swastika T-shirt for sale online after outrage". New York Daily News. August 8, 2017.
  19. ^ Ruvo, Christopher (August 7, 2017). "Teespring, T-Shirt Creator Criticized For Swastika Shirt". Advertising Specialty Institute.
  20. ^ "Clothing company yanks rainbow swastika T-shirt". CBS News. August 8, 2017.
  21. ^ Perrigo, Billy (December 1, 2017). "'Rope. Tree. Journalist. Some Assembly Required': Walmart Removes Threatening Shirt From Store". U.S. * violence. Time. Time Inc. Archived from the original on February 17, 2018. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  22. ^ "U.S. Press Freedom Tracker". 2017. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved February 17, 2018.
  23. ^ "Dylann Roof T-Shirts and sweatshirts are being sold online by a Silicon Valley-backed company". Newsweek. April 24, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2018.
  24. ^ a b "Transgender designer says she was banned by Teespring for anti-transphobic designs". The Daily Dot. June 6, 2018. Retrieved November 4, 2019.
  25. ^ O'Sullivan, Donie (October 18, 2018). "Exclusive: Women's March target of elaborate Facebook scam run from Bangladesh". Cable News Network.
  26. ^ Novak, Kim (February 20, 2020). "Keith Lemon plans festival in honour of Caroline Flack and sells 'be kind' T-shirts for mental health charity". Metro. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  27. ^ Novak, Kim (February 26, 2020). "Keith Lemon criticises websites selling fake Caroline Flack charity T-shirts". The Independent. Archived from the original on May 26, 2022. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  28. ^ Jackson, Jon (January 11, 2021). "Teespring Apologizes for Selling 'Camp Auschwitz' Shirts Like Those Seen on Capitol Rioters". Newsweek. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  29. ^ Jordan, Luiza (January 6, 2021). "Spring is here". Spring. Retrieved February 1, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]