Thursday, November 19, 2009

Soge Shirts Interview - A one on one with David Cree

Sometimes when cruising around the t-shirt web world with my LadyUmbrella work I come across things that make me "lol" proper - that happened to me when I found Soge Shirts. I got in touch with the guys behind the scenes asked if they'd like to be interviewed. David Cree, half of Soge Shirts, was kind enough to take time out and give some intriguing, real raconteur answers to my questions so get comfy and enjoy BBQ tales, naughty bananas and a handful of melons...

Rob - Hey David, thanks a million for letting me interview, lets get down to it, you kicked off Soge Shirts in 2007, what was the catalyst for the company to start up? And where does the name come from or whatdoes it mean?

David - We had about 20 different ideas of making websites, and somehow earn a living over the internet. That working on a laptop from the beach idea seemed great. One of our ideas was dumb funny t shirts. I could draw, and Tim is just awesome. We had no idea how to build a website, or where to print t shirts and clothing, or just find money to start a company. We found a third party company that would print our stuff with little effort on our part, and a whole bunch of web design info on the web, and from friends. After a few design flops and printing errors, we found a system that worked and stuck with it.
Where the name comes from is a long, but short story. The name is actually an acronym for our first company we started to be a Graphic Design, Marketing, SEO, and Enterprise for our bigger dreams in life. That company is called Son Of Grace Enterprises. (SOGE) The name Son Of Grace Enterprises came from a website domain name I bought years ago, to try my attempt at web development. My last name is Cree, and in Scottish, it derives back to Mac Rae, which when translated means, "Son Of Grace." I've fallen from grace many times in my life, and learned to pick myself up. Both Tim and I were in such a happy mood to start a company, we didn't think to hard about a clever name for a t-shirt company, and just rolled with an acronym of our first company, hence the Soge. Pronounce it any way you like. With a french accent and a oui oui, after it sounds funny. [Rob - Oooh la la]

Rob - And are they high quality cheap t-shirts? I was reading on your blog and saw that you have some views regarding pricing of t-shirts. You guys seem to be price conscious so you add value to your customers - from a business point of view does this not really hurt your margins? or you have any cost reduction strategies that you guys employ?

David - First off, we love our customers because they have decided our shirts were for them, even with a few high prices of some of our items. Our third party vendor, has it's positives and negatives, like any other company, one of the negatives being higher margins of production for our shirts. Our cheapest tee shirt is $11.99, and it is comfortable cotton. It's breathable, and a tough shirt. Of course our higher quality tees like our dark t shirts are much heavier, thicker, stronger, more comfortable, but they are over $20. We are growing larger and larger by the minute, and we are about to produce many t-shirts of your favorite designs, in bulk because we really want to bring the public cheaper t-shirts. We are working very diligently to make our t-shirts around $6 - $7 cheaper. Other shirt companies are much larger, and can bring cheaper good to consumers. We will be there shortly.

Rob - So, what is your all time best selling t-shirt and why do you think it is your most successful one? Might you have gotten lucky/planned with the timing of the t-shirts release or did you ratchet up the marketing effort to aid the sales? Any top tips?

David - One of our older designs, Cheapest Gasoline, came out during the gas crisis. It was planned, but we got some well appreciated bumps from our third party vendor on their front page. The sales just came. It was a timing of the market place, and season, but what took it higher in sales, was the promotions of it. Distributing the product, to those who would relate somehow to the shirt, brought about good positive feedback from our fans. Even when they didn't purchase a shirt, we took that feedback, and promoted our shirts along with that feedback, giving the shirt product more value to a consumer reading about another person liking the same shirt. More often than not, this translates into more positive feedback, and then progressively, more sales.

Rob - You have a huge catalog of t-shirts, really, a staggering amount have you counted them all? which is your favorite design? One design I like is the When life hands you Melons.

David - Yes, I have counted them many times.. for my hand still aches from drawing so many of them. We have over 200 designs, some get deleted because of personal preference, or they're just too offensive, or just wrong, from a design stand point. I'm kinda anal about details. If I don't feel right about a shirt, I talk to Tim, and I'll pull it down. I do love the When life hands you melons, you might be dyslexic one as well. My favorite one right now, that's taking off and selling well right out of the gate, is bananas gone wild, with a banana stripping off it's banana peel. It's a bad fruit joke. [Rob - hehe, what a ridiculous grin on that banana, quality]

Rob - Every time you eat meat a hippie drops a hacky sack - I laughed when I saw this. You happen to be at a bbq and witness said event or are you the hapless hacky sack hippie?

David - I used to live out of my car for a few months, and carried multiple hacky sacks around to all the people's places I crashed at. Met many different people, and a few were hippies. Great, wonderful, amazing people, not because they associated with the hippie group, but of who they are. We talked long and hard about the circle of life, and how you have to keep the hacky sack going to everyone to complete the circle. When it dropped we joked about people dying, or trees falling every time someone drops the hacky sack. One drunk night, my friend Mike and his brother and I went to a local Mexican food shop and ordered super chips with lots of meat. We joked about meat and how it will kill a hippie if you eat it, cause Mike's blue Volkswagen van, was the mystery machine, and he looked like Shaggy from Scooby Doo. Years later, I heard something about hippies and eating meat. I laughed thinking back to that night. I felt the circle of life is torn apart if hippies everywhere can feel each time a cow dies. I took it a step further remembering the circle of hacky sack. I am a hacky sack hippie in spirit, with a shaved head, lol. I love nature, animals, spiritually feel connected to everything, explore alternative states of consciousness whether I want to or not, and feel passivism, and non violent political action is a must, but I can't classify myself as a hippie completely, cause they'd never let me in. I've got one foot in hippie land, and one foot in the "I love juicy burgers" world. [Rob - now, thats quite an answer]

Rob - And from BBQ food to feed burner you've got a whopping 1110 on your feed burner mailing list how long did it take to acquire that amount? Are you in regular contact with those on your mailing list? any direct results from e-mails sent? Any tips on how to operate a successful mailing list for tee sales?

David - Our blog is credited to Tim. He writes the vast majority of humor articles, randomness and fun stuff that comes through that avenue. We decided to match our sense of humor, with our tee shirts, and bring about ways our fans, and potential consumers of our products, can really relate to who is behind the product. People started getting interested in us as people, and not just a tee shirt company, who's trying to force t-shirts down their throats. I think people just liked good positive detours from life, and our blog was built to attempt that.
From a marketing standpoint, any newsletters a t shirt company sends, should have value. Know your market, if at all possible. Understand the attention span of yourself, and others around you. My point on this is some people can only read something for 5-6 seconds, before they make up their mind if they'll continue or not. A great introduction, or anecdote provides value to stay interested. Using language and writing content that evokes feelings of emotion, and value, keep readers interested, and relating to the vibe and energy you put into your emails. As a reader, I want to relate to a product, I want it to enhance my life in some way, and I was to know more about it if I decide to find out more. Thinking from a reader's standpoint, definitely helps with marketing to your consumers. Foreshadowing how your readers might react to content in your emails, and thinking about potential questions that could be asked, can help you develop a well balance mailing or email, with enough information, enough value, and enough customer relations, so that a majority of the people on your list, can get what they're looking for.

Rob - Are you a tee-totaller? that is to say that your sole job is with Soge Shirts or are you multitaskers?

David - I have to be doing more than one thing. I am multi-tasked by nature. A jack of all trades, master of none. Drawing tee shirts, developing the websites we run, graphic designs for our advertisements, writing content, setting up our shops for sales, handling modeling contracts, finances, accounting, and all that legal jargon, is a weekly routine for me. Tim and I constantly are talking throwing ideas around for new shirts, new blog posts, new ventures online, and new ideas for the SOGE empire. (unlike Rome, we wont force people into a coliseum to fight lions and knife wielding midgets.) Tim does many multitasking ventures. Everything I can't do, or wont do, Tim does. He helps me out on everything listed above except the drawing. He has designed a few shirts, but he might tell you he can't draw. He makes up for it with everything else he can do. [Rob - a regular Batman and Robin team]

Rob - So, you've been in business since 07, that's a few years of experience. What would you say is one of the highlights of being in business so far and with is the worst thing that has happened in that period?

David - The highlights are many.. but I think the one that sticks out was the first shirt we sold. We both were in a daze and couldn't really believe someone actually wanted something we created. It took on a whole new life for us, bringing what we can, to the public, and people liking it. Maybe the scariest thing, was when we almost got scammed out of a large bulk tee shirt order, with someone attempting to use a stolen credit card. [Rob - umm, this seems to be a recurring trend] Luckily, it never happened [Rob - as Mr. Burns would say, "Excellent"], but it was scary. Some bad things turned good, one was losing money on some ventures that didn't work, and even having to learn to work together, as a business entity, and not as two people with different opinions. We have had our tough times, when we first started out, cause we didn't know what we were doing. Keeping our heads on straight, was hard, but it allowed both Tim and I to grow together as friends, and business partners. Being able to change and adapt, is a constant highlight of our work. Seeing more and more how our designs, change and grow, makes all those harsh times worth it.
I'd say to all companies starting out, find those things that work, and duplicate them. Don't be afraid to change directions, if you can handle it, and remember, you can handle a lot more than you think. Hard work, never fails, the mistakes only shows you what you didn't know before. [Rob - some sound advice there]

Rob - Ok so, time to wrap it up, but what about the plans for the future for Soge Shirts? Anything in the pipe line you'd like to divulge?

David -Totally! Always new shirts, and new website ventures. Right now we're working on two stores in California, Pangea in Pacific Beach, and Leaping Lotus in Solona Beach, selling our products. Hopefully, by next year. Once we get into stores, we are thinking about opening up a Soge Shirts Rack, where our top selling shirts, will be sold for much cheaper than on We love our fans, and want to bring them fun clothing, without breaking the bank.

The End

Well, nothing left to say but thanks once more to Soge Shirts for a pretty darn interesting interview if I do say so myself..Find the guys on facebook and on twitter. So what do you guys out there think? which is your favorite Soge t-shirt design? Few more interviews lined up for the T-Shirt Strategy but if you would like me to interview you just get in touch...stay happy...

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  1. At least if the t-shirt thing doesn't work out, you have a back up career in journalism. LOL.

  2. interesting posting, thanks for sharing guys

  3. It should be easy for people to buy from Soge, knowing the two dudes that run it are cool blokes. Great interview, Rob!

  4. Fun and informative post. I too am a multitasking kind of guy and would love to follow in your footsteps and realize success. Thank you for sharing.

  5. "[Rob - a regular Batman and Robin team]" great editor note!

    Tim and Dave make an excellent team - each bringing different strengths to their tee company!

  6.'s objective is to offer you a quality custom hand tailored shirt to your measurements and your designs that is affordable and painless to order.

  7. is SCAM. Do not purchase from this company, you will not receive anything.