Threadless mantra: be human & find friends

Threadless

This blog post comes to you live from the PSFK Chicago Salon, “Fueling Imagination.” During a morning session, Mig Reyes, Brock Rumer, and Colleen Wilson discuss the employee culture inside Threadless, the successful T-shirt designer and merchandiser that famously crowdsources designs.

The Threadless team expresses bemusement at all the news media attention devoted to Threadless. To them, there is no secret to the success of Threadless: be human and rely on friends. That’s all there is to it: seek ideas for T shirt designs, quickly act on the good ones, and be cool to people as you do it. Spread good karma and get good karma.

According to Team Threadless, successful T-shirt design ideas can come from anywhere including inside Threadless — customer service, the CEO, anywhere. And it’s not just a matter of crowdsourcing designs — Threadless also crowdsources ideas for improving the way the company operates. Mig says that encouraging employees to generate ideas was inspired by Facebook and Google, two companies that make it a point to set aside time for employees to think creatively.

According to Brock, Threadless discourages prima donna behavior and encourages employees to embrace their inner whackiness, including the manner in which employees tweet. According to Colleen and Mig, Threadless also encourages people to be human.  The culture is open with a come-as-you-are vibe in the office. (“We want to work with people who are not afraid to embarrass themselves,” says Mig.) And that authenticity extends to the way Threadless markets itself. Threadless does not typically use models to show off its T shirts but real employees who look like you and me. If the company makes a mistake, a real person owns up to the problem and deals with it. You don’t get a bland “Sorry for your inconvenience” message from a phone tree if a T-shirt order is botched, but a “Man, we messed up” from a real employee — a personal approach partly inspired by Zappos, Mig says.

Have fun. Be human. Be respectful. And do it all with friends. Those are the principles of the Threadless culture. And that culture shines through in its marketing and service approach.

PS: great to be at a PSFK Salon and meeting Piers Fawkes, and I enjoyed reconnecting with Brock, a former Razorfish Chicago colleague.

This entry was posted in Marketing and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Threadless mantra: be human & find friends

  1. Mig Reyes says:

    Thanks for the kind words and awesome write-up, David. I also found Christina\’s presentation on eco fashion design quite interesting, and it\’s always good to hear fellow Chicagoan\’s like Chad from Post Family doing good things. Indeed a fun event. (Thanks, PSFK and Syfy!)

    • ddeal says:

      My pleasure. BTW my wife and I shop at the Threadless on Broadway. What compelled me to write the blog post is that Threadless customer service & marketing really do express the culture you discussed in your presentation.

  2. Pingback: Superhype » Blog Archive » Threadless mantra: be human & find friends | Trends

  3. Threadless is one great place. PERIOD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *