Interview with Robert Goldbach of ShirtCity and Scribtee!

cool urban fashion tee scribteeSo I'm sure you've all heard of a little company called Threadless, a web site that started as a design competition and has grown into a monster of the design world. Many people think Threadless is the only game in town, If you think this you are surely mistaken. There are many others out there, but none in my opinion has the growing power of Scribtee!

Scribtee, much like Threadless, takes user submitted designs and prints them on t-shirts. I recently had the opportunity to Interview Robert Goldbach, part of the marketing crew for Scribtee. Robert Emailed me to make me aware of some new submissions and when I checked them out I couldn't resist the opportunity to learn more about the company, and I'm sure my readers feel the same!

Here We Go:

Name of yourself, your Company (and position within), and Location?

My name is Robert Goldbach and I work for Shirtcity/ Scribtee. I'm one of the marketing crew in the relatively new marketing office in Berlin, Germany, responsible for blog contacts.

What is the difference between Shirtcity and Scribtee? Are those two companies or one? cool urban fashion scribtee

Scribtee is like the little brother of Shirtcity which is the thing that started it all. The business of Shirtcity is Print-on-demand as you may know it from Cafepress, Spreadshirt or Zazzle. We came up with this idea in 2001 and were the first company ever to offer an online-shirt designer. 

This baby constantly grew, MyShirtcity.com was established to offer free merch-shops for everybody that doesn't want much fuzz with expensive high runs of pre-printed T-Shirts. Go there, design your shop, link it and you're in business. For this we chose flex print as a method: you don't need costly silk screens that you never use again, the plotter cuts it out, we press it to shirt, and the results are really good. Better than you could ever do with a marker and a ruler.
Then we saw people doing really good designs for their own shirts and said, hey, let's have a design competition to honor these and a member community. Bang, there was the ShirtcityClub.

Then really cool designs like "Just loving music" came in and won at our ShirtcityClub.com design contest. Those were too complex and had too many colors to print them on shirts with flex print and just too good to sell them with digital transfer (which is more suitable to print baby photos as a gift for grandma). Quality designs should go on quality shirts: we had those screen printed, chose only top quality blanks and gave the whole thing a new name.  

I tell this whole story because I don't want Scribtee to be regarded as another company that goes "Oh, let's copy threadless, rip off designers and make shit loads of money out of the sales". That has never been the idea.  

 Who is your clothing supplier? Any Particular reason?

For Scribtee we use blank shirts by Continental Clothing and American Apparel. Continental makes really good shirts: they fit well, they're soft and comfortable and last a while, not like these thin shirts who have holes after five washes. Plus, their cotton is produced eco-friendly and fair trade. Same for American Apparel, of course. At Shirtcity there are lots of other products such as tank tops, caps, sweaters, underwear... there we print on Anvil, JT's, Fruit Of The Loom, Sonar and others... the product range is constantly evolving.

Have you ever had a design that was simply too hard to screen print?

No. We have design rules, and if the submissions disregard them (like if they use more than 5 colours), they don't participate. Easy as that. Plus, the submissions are mostly really well executed.

What happens to your old screens?(Thrown out, washed, ect)

Sorry, I'm not too well informed about the printing process, this is done by professionals over at Sumoprint, and they are far from here, in Neu-Ulm (Bavaria), as is our main office and production site. 

What is the hardest thing about running a competition based T-Shirt Company?

The hardest thing is running it the same time as your main business with not one person more. For christmas for example, Shirtcity kept us busy, the demand for customized shirts and gift items is high at that period, as you can imagine. We fell a bit back these days, but we're confident we can put out new Scribtees more regularly.

cool urban fashion scribteeHave you found a change in contribution quality/quantity recently? What Do you attribute this to:

The increase in both quality and quantity is not a change as such, more a constant development. Scribtee started in October last year & we think it was a good start. The word has spread amongst the designers, and it ought to spread some more, but we're happy to already receive submissions from T-Design veterans such as Draco who has already a history of winning at Threadless, DBH and LaFraise. He made "Watch out for your own desires". Most of our winning designs came from Spain, and if we can attract this kind of creative people in the other countries as well, the site will be even more exciting. 500$ for the winner plus free shopping for 50$ should be a good argument for everybody to participate.

What is your personal favorite design you have ever seen submitted?

"Aerosol Queen" by Muro was really a fav and I was happy to see it printed. Especially with the grey accents that our graphic service added it is even better. The style is dope. "You are what you eat" is a bright idea and I still love it.

Have any of your favorites not made the cut?

Spontaneously I remember one neat design with buddha and some duckies (pictured to the left)... it didn't win but it can still be purchased at the ShirtcityClub: http://www.shirtcity.com/shop/index.php?club=cs&id=u_18_404813&id2=ts&id3=51&id4=vorne with our usual flex print which is almost as good.

On the whole, is there a difference between the amount of male/female orders?

None worth mentioning.

cool urban fashion scribtee

Differentiate yourself from Threadless in one sentence:

Tough question. When I did a Threadless purchase a while ago I was a bit disappointed, since some of them were stained with black ink traces and my shirt felt a bit rough. I think Scribtee quality can top that. But I don't want to say anything bad about threadless, since they do such a good job. One difference is that we don't start from scratch, with Shirtcity we already got a solid structure to build on. So the sentence may be something like "We're younger, we're from Europe, we think global from the start and we just started growing."

Anything you'd like to tell your foes, fans, or superstars such as Rambo?

Dear fans, we love you too, without your submissions, ideas, feedback and purchases we'd be nothing. Dear foes, I hope you don't exist. Dear Rambo, if you want to rip a shirt off your body, don't use a Scribtee, they deserve more love. Dear superstars, Scribtees are really affordable, especially for you.

Thank you for your time Rob!. 

It's you I have to thank!


As you can see, Scribtee isn't just a copy of something that has been done before. They are better! And even though they are relatively new on the scene, their backbone has been around for a while and these guys are just gonna keep growing. Plus they are from Europe, the same place that designs every other thing in the world worth a damn.

Support the new designs by picking them up at the Scribtee Store and voting on your new favorites!

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