March 2009

Paradigm Shiftin’

On a long enough time line, I do complete what I set out to do. The second round of bacon shirts arrived with sufficient aplomb on me late last week. And so I began the post processing of tagging and cutting and ironing the ‘protective’ backing on the inside of each shirt. Then the packing, labeling and shipping. The bread and butter of the independent internet shirtailer. Time consuming bread and butter, but ah well.

I gotta admit, Tiny Run is still exciting and interesting, challenging and difficult. And sometimes, a little too much on that difficult quality. The second bacon coming contained as many trials as the first (and finally shipped out the last today). My expletives flowed in the same river-like manner. The promises to myself to never repeat that again had the same sickly sweet kiss. The thought of just making shirts that no-one would ever order or charging ridiculous amounts to achieve that same result pokes me with its pitchfork and goads with freedom from all these concerns without actually having to make the decision to abandon ship.

Of all these knocks on my door the one I let in was the most innocuous. Of course. I let in The Quilt. It was the only one that offered comfort, by way of playing into the slow piecemeal production method, and was an item locked into being not able to mass produce. If I was going to do a bacon quilt, it would take me six months and there would be only one Bacon Quilt, and all others are impostors. If you meet the Bacon Quilt on the road, kill him?

you don't understand the COMFORT of the dark side quilt!

The impetus, or one of them, for Tiny Run was that there were things that I didn’t see in the ever spawning internet shirt market. I wanted to see them. And I was curious if anyone else wanted to see them, too.

But the business is brutal. My production methods and business acumen are less than full grown, and that is a kind way of putting it. Really, I suck at this. And not only do I not want to ever see another internet shirt site to confirm that no one is doing anything that I perceive as truly awesome, I start to wonder if I really need to see these things through myself. My own pursuit of what I consider awesome is coming under question, as well as my success at achieving awesome so far.

And in between the rigors of the business and the promise of a baby soon arriving, I have been swaddling my brain in quilts.

So for the last three months or so, I have been thinking about the canvas that a quilt might function as. It’s a neat diversion, to say the least. The pictures in my head are the most delicious kind. I’ve stockpiled about six or seven ideas and fabric to do at least three of them. And like shirts, I find great technical excellence in many quilters online, but little of the spark that interests me.

So what does this mean? I haven’t really developed my thinking too far beyond today. I’m looking at my life facing the largest change in a matter of weeks. I don’t know what will happen. I’d like to think that the Tiny Run I’ve built and you’ve followed will weather this storm and shirts of some interesting sort will continue to grace your eyes and torsos.

Maybe we will see some onesies.

Mockingbird

check out that guy...yo.reach for itendorse if you so desire

‘Mockingbird’
Hilesh Patel
design run of
03/16/2009 through 03/31/2009

I was a bit surprised by the simple bird, holding a pistol. Loved it.

Also was surprised that people wanted some branding. But I understand that some don’t care much for it, no matter how much they might enjoy the brand itself.

So again Tiny Run steps in with some options. Hand screen printed on black or charcoal grey American Apparel shirts for your bird with gun (with branding) pleasure.

You Mess with Bacon, You Get Porked

red red and red

The second saga of production for the bacon design is as rife with turmoil and hair pulling moments and gasps of exasperation at the bottom of a lonely, dry well as the first.

First round found difficulty mostly with the garments being embroidered, and this round finds its antagonist within the very threads themselves. I hazard a guess that most of the details of variegated thread vs. candy cane thread is of little interest to the general populace. I also propose that most people are not interested in how much of my profit margin was lost on UPS faster than ground fees for various threads in an attempt to match the original designs’ thread color.

I would, however, surmise that those few who ordered the second run of the bacon shirt, would wonder why the hell is that taking so long? Indeed. I have received several emails to that effect, though my kind customers did not use the word ‘hell’ in their questioning. They are a civilized bunch. And quite forgiving.

But the tale is as follows:

The original threads used in the first prototypes and the final production run of the first bacon shirt came from Australia. How did I get Australian threads to begin with, here deep in the US midwest, would be a fair question that I would at this time ignore. Those original spools ran slightly thin, and I worried that they did not contain enough thread left for the second production run, so I set about finding supplemental spools within the continental bounds of my country. There was driving to local threaderies, as well as online orders placed. An additional and finally acceptable set of two spools were finally decided upon. Forward momentum was resumed.

Then in quick succession of events everything tumbled to dust again.

All spools were sent to the embroiderer. All spools were received by embroiderer. All blank shirts were received by embroiderer. Embroiderer calls me and says that they will not do the job without at least ten spools of each color thread. This is not entirely unsurprising, as most embroiderers have large multiple head machines in order to stitch out a design quite a bit faster than one-at-a-time. I’ve seen pictures of some machines that can do up to twenty four stitch-outs at a time. Huge. What made this surprising, though, is that they did these one at a time previously, and now they were laying down the law. Said law was not mentioned when the original discussion was had about second run, or even when the purchase order was submitted.

In order to comply, I would need to purchase an additional twenty two spools of thread. Please bear in mind that this thread is not inexpensive, especially the glow thread. My lunch today was less than one spool of the non-glow. I generally don’t have much margin on designs, and purchasing these spools would effectively eliminate a profit margin, as well as being to eat into the money being held to cover the eventual shipping of product to customer.

I ran through all the options slowly for a few hours that afternoon, covering everything from buying the spools to tossing in the towel, collecting whatever refunds would be available for supplies already procured, and issue refunds to all bacon customers. I also tried calling around to other local embroidery shops and seeing if anyone would handle it based upon the spool count already possessed. I even checked craigslist for a production quality machine to do it myself. Found one for about two grand. The best, and ultimately, the only, option, was to have the current embroidery company handle the job, to reselect two meat thread colors based on what they had in house and procure the needed six extra spools of fat glow thread to get to the total of ten.

There have been a few aftershocks since that final reroute.

The supplier of the glow thread didn’t receive their backorder. The embroiderer picked a pink that was far too light. But all this is a far cry from the surprise twists and turns experienced thus far. That I can handle.

The thing that worries me a bit, but only a bit, is that the bacon with not look exactly like the one pictured. Now, my poor photography plus your monitor settings equals who knows what you are seeing in comparison to actual product photographed. But this might be more noticeable, since the lower of the two meat threads will no longer alternate between a pink and a light red. It’s going to be all pink. Not the end of the world, at this point, as long as the damn shirts happen at all. And this does differentiate the first bacon run from the second. You want limited edition, you got it.

And as always, when these roll into your mail receiving receptacle, or even beforehand, if you are all, like, “this is bunk!” then I will certainly refund your monies. I am here to earn your love with my interpretation of bacon in thread.

An Exercise in Subtlety

the shape of the wearer's chest may influnce the subtlety...oh, it's there alright, look closely...

An Exercise in Subtlety
Michael Cianfrani
design run of
03/01/2009 through 03/14/2009

February was particularly brutal, so I wanted to start March out right. With as many swears as possible.

This is my response to that month, and also some of the graphic heavy shirts out there. Sometimes I want simple 140pt all capitol that screams but only from its own shadowing. This isn’t eight color, it’s no color; it’s not specialty printed, there is no printing. It is embossed.

Forgive my self indulgence, but I thought the subtlety of it might appeal to those who swear, but under their breath. I picked out some common short swears in the drop-down menu, but if you had something special in mind, let me know and we can work on it. I’m also opening the color options up to whatever you want. Anyone who orders pick out the color of their shirt from the wide array of available colors of these American Apparel men’s and ladies’ shirts and let me know in the order comment box.

I also wouldn’t recommend black, as the wording is defined by its shadows, unless you really really want subtlety.