Sean McElwee Interview Born this Way
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Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Sean from the Emmy Winning TV show Born this Way on A&E. I started a t-shirt business with the funny things that I say on them.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My mom wrote a few books about me and I’ve been a keynote speaker for a while. When I was writing my current speech the theme “It Could Happen” and “That’s what Faith Can Do” emerged. And it gave me an idea to put those sayings on shirts. And then I kept having ideas and not I’ve got 130 designs on my website.
Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.
I think up the saying then I have a graphic artist I tell what the shirt should look like and he makes it the way I describe it. Then I use Printful because they print on demand and I don’t have to have any inventory and can offer 12 different shirt styles and a lot of colors too. The print the shirts and ship them to my customers.
Describe the process of launching the online store/business.
That’s been harder than I thought. Most all the profits my first year went to advertising. But once the business was on Born this Way then it really picked up fast.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
My fans wearing the shirts and posting on social media has bee the most successful.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future is amazing and I’ve got new ideas every day. I really hope one day to have my shirts in Target.
What’s your average monthly revenue today and what do you project it to be in next 6 months?
Right after my business was on Born this Way I did $10,000 in sales in one month but since then it’s gone down to about $2,000 a month. I hope it goes back up.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I’ve learned that when people see someone wearing one of my shirts that they buy them more than if I pay for advertising and so I want more people to post pictures in my shirts.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Shopify is my website host. I use Textline to text my customer. Mailchimp for my emails, privy for my exit pop-up and auto reply emails.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t expect to get rich quick it takes time and a lot of patience. And give back to your community whatever it is. Every shirt I sell I keep one dollar back and then I donate baby onesies with the money — Down Syndrome Associations give presents to new parents of kids with Down syndrome and I designed a onesie that says “Awesome is on the 21st Chromosome and I donated 360 onesies in January to 13 Down syndrome Associations in 10 states. I hope I can donate a lot more next year.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Nope. I’m a one man show except my mom helps too.
Where can we go to learn more about you?
My blog is on my website at seanese.com