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An Update on Goodstorm, Capitalism Done Wrong

A year and a quarter ago, we earnestly introduced a series of sweatshop free shirts from American Apparel and union sources by a company called Goodstorm. It sounded like a great enterprise at first, but there have been problems.

You see, we and other designers who helped Goodstorm get off the ground reported big problems with actually getting paid for the work we put in. Here at Irregular Times, we haven’t seen a cent, although we’ve been promised the money we were owed more than once. If the designers aren’t getting paid the money they’ve been promised, are the people ordering shirts with our designs on them actually getting the shirts they were promised? We don’t know one way or the other, but once that bond of trust has been broken, we can’t make any assumptions.

Three weeks ago, after our patience finally ran out and we went public with our recommendation that Goodstorm be avoided, we surprisingly promptly received a barrage of communication, including the following letter of explanation:

We are deeply sorry for the delay to your commission payment. Goodstorm has changed dramatically since December 2006 and is currently going through the most important transition in its’ history. I am not entirely sure what you were told in December, or by who, but I will ensure that you receive you store earnings asap.

Our mission, our value based model and our dedication to “Capitalism Done” drive our work force, but our extremely tight margins have made it very difficult. Our team is very small at the moment, and I am currently dealing with all customer service, operations and business development. Our current transition involves a major development in the platform we offer non-profit and political organizations, but realizing our goal means that we have experienced some delays in order processing and commission payment. We have been working day and night to get caught up as quickly as possible, and I make sure that all customer service inquiries are dealt with quickly and efficiently.

We expect our current transition to be complete within 2-3 weeks, but I am confident that I can get your check in the mail before this. Please bear with us during this difficult period.

It’s been 3 weeks today. Do you think we’ve seen that check in the mail?

There are other, more reliable places to get your indy shirts sweatshop-free. Go there. Avoid Goodstorm.

19 comments to An Update on Goodstorm, Capitalism Done Wrong

  • df

    tight margins are a hard thing to work within to be sure.

    I want to tell (mostly you jim) that in a few weeks skreened will be rolling out an even better site with better search, more features, front and back design placement options and even more products.

    The killer thing – we’re adding affiliate commissions. Which means, not only will irregular times get their normal payment for shirts, but once in place, everything sent to skreened through an affiliate link will get you an extra dollar per sale – out of our pockets, without doing anything extra.

    You’ve been so good to us that we’re happy to introduce it, and take a little less money, so that you can take a little more.

    daniel
    skreened.com

  • My experience with Skreened was not as positive. When I tried to promote a t-shirt I designed on my website, Daniel gave away the shirt to someone who walked in the door without giving me any royalty. I posted a question about it on his blog, but it wasn’t answered and I don’t even see the question any more.

    I haven’t written a scathing blog about it yet, but it certainly raises questions in my mind about the seriousness of Skreened as a business. Maybe it’s better to do business with them if you live in the same city and can just walk down the street if you have an issue.

    Add to that their absence of black tees and larger adult sizes, and it leaves a lot of questions for me about expanding the products I have listed with them.

    Nijma
    Camel’s Nose

  • df

    Crap. I just read this, went to the blog and found your comment. I had no idea it was even there. I get so much spam on my blog, that i should really put up the normal disclaimer (leaving a blog comment isn’t a great way to get ahold of skreened)

    That said: here is your comment reposted for everyone:
    ————
    I don’t understand who owns the intellectual property to any designs that are uploaded to your site. Once a shopkeeper uploads a design, do we have anything further to say about it, or is the graphic yours to do whatever you want with? For instance, would you sell the same design yourself on a t-shirt and undercut the original shopkeeper’s price? Would you make t-shirts for your friends for free without giving a commission to the person who uploaded the design?

    Sep 10, 3:50 AM
    ————–

    a. you own the copyright. There’s no transfer of anything intelectual property wise. I tried to write that in pretty plain english on our copyright page:

    “Your Protection

    When you make something and upload it to us, it’s still yours. We do not take rights of the intellectual property that you send to us. Thus, it is protected under the same copyright law as everything else. There’s no weird, transfer of intellectual property ownership. When you send us an image, you grant us permission to print that image on apparel and fill orders for it.”

    http://skreened.com/static/copyright

    As for filling orders for my friends who visit my office, I have done that on 1 occasion where they schoolteacher you blogged about tracked me down and asked for a free ‘impeach bush’ shirt. I felt like i was doing everyone a favor by giving the guy that you wrote about a freebie – but if it bothers you, I’m happy to add it to your commission. It’s really not a problem for me – but I can see how it looks and I’m happy to make it right for you.

    also – adding 2x and 3x, adding canvas totes and other shirt styles.

    printing white on black is a completely different beast. And trust me, i would love to, the technology is JUST.NOT.WORKING for me EVER. so i gave up for the time being.

    anything else?

  • Jim

    Very responsive of you, Daniel. That’s why I’m sticking with Skreened.

  • df

    BTW. just as a technical FYI. this is why white ink sucks. . .

    1. unline darkening a light colored shirt with CMYK inks, white has to print OVER the color of the shirt and sit on top of the shirt. Because it’s basicly a white-out it’s a much thicker ink (it even required a lengthy pretreatment to get it to stick). All of this ink is getting forced through inkjet nozzles which are very small. Since the white is so much thicker, it is ALWAYS clogging if it’s not used every day. Every time it clogs it’s 400 bucks for a new print head and a few days to get it shipped and installed. I would love it if the technology worked, but it just doesn’t at this point.

  • df

    that first word is “unlike”, sorry.

  • Nijma

    I’m trying to picture the mechanical gizmo here, but can’t you just basically run a solvent through the print head after you use it? Or take it off and store it in solvent? I wonder how Goodstorm does it. I have never seen their product, but people keep ordering it again and again, so it must be all right.

  • Nijma

    Or use a different ink product? Or thin the ink product before using it? My husband used to do spray lacquer finishing and the trick was all in the machine used, but there was also some mixing of the product, adding dryers, silicone to prevent fisheye after years of Pledge spray wax applications, etc. He worked closely with the manufacturers whenever there was a problem, but there was more than one manufacturer.
    I’ve been toying with the idea of homemade silkscreen, but have no time for it.

  • df

    so the machine is an ink jet with the cartages fed by bulk bottles of ink. There’s really only one manufacturer for the ink, so it doesn’t give us a lot of options.

    Running a solvent through the head would be good, but the cartages basically have to be full – so every time you flushed them out, you would be wasting about a half oz of very expensive ink.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of watering the stuff down. i can always give it a shot once the current clog clears, but there’s no guarantees the white would lay down heavy enough to really work.

    There’s also an issue with American apparel shirts and white direct to garment ink. The shirts are so good / soft, the ink doesn’t take nearly as well as a crappy, cardboard-stiff gildan or something.

    I don’t want to say I’ve completely given up on it, but with all the other stuff happening, being a small business, etc, I’m having to focus on getting the other parts of the operation running smoothly before taking this part of it on.

    Do you have any comments about your other issues I tried to address? Do you know that guy I’m talking about? he’s not really a friend, he just saw your description of him on the site and thought he should get a free shirt for it – so he drove down from Akron or wherever and got one.

  • Nijma

    One of the things shopkeepers can do with their blogs is to create awareness for their products among people who would be most likely to buy them. If this guy was so interested in a shirt he drove all the way from whereever, I would say he was part of the market I was aiming for. If he objected to me using his name or his story or giving his cause free publicity, I certainly would have removed his name from my blog.

    Ask Jim about how much money bloggers make from their efforts. I’m sure we don’t even get minimum wage. Working at McDonalds would certainly pay more–he’s blogged about that subject before. In addition, people who do this are often in poor health or marginally employed.

    If this guy is a schoolteacher in a union with health insurance he really has a lot of nerve asking for free shirts. As far as what you did, donating to worthy enterprises is noble if you donate from your own stuff. If you wanted to donate from my shop, you should have bought it from my shop before donating it. Or better yet, offered him a discount on shipping since he was willing to pick it up. It is really troubling to me that you did not see a line you were crossing in backing off from a business model and doing what you did.

    If anyone drives to your place will you give them a free shirt?

    What about all the political candidates Jim sells tees for in his sidebars? If they show up at your shop are you going to give them those tees for free, or do you have more respect for Jim and his business?

  • Nijma

    Oh, and I changed the link on your comment. My site is not just kid-friendly, it’s Arab-culture-friendly. If you saw the photo I posted of the Iranian mannequins with the article about the religious police, you will understand that linking to your blog with its pictures of naked-crotch mannequins is so not the view of American culture I’m trying to portray. I switched the link to your home page.

  • i can totally see what you see with this, please accept my apology.

    The guy, from what i understand was being represented by a lawyer who lives 3 houses down from me. He was in town for that and came by on his way back out of town.

    I think the bottom line is, I meant well, made an assumption about what I thought would be ok to do in that instance, and I chose wrong. I’m happy to re-imburse you for the design I used. I hope you know, from my comments on your blog and being very open, that I was never trying to pull one over on anyone or hide anything.

    I’ve enjoyed serving you, printing your designs, etc, and I’m very closely in touch with everything that goes out the door, so I think of your venture often and am very supportive.
    I’m also quiet easy to get allong with. :)

  • Nijma

    I didn’t think you were trying to be devious, otherwise I would have written something like what I wrote about Goodstorm. As I pointed out in an earlier comment, you do a lot of things right. I hope your business does well.

    You would think the ink company would have a technical rep. If no one can get their ink to work, how are they going to sell ink?

    What about black union tees–I think Jim blogged while back about other brands that are ethically produced–maybe they have a material more condusive to printing.

  • df

    I’ll check into the union tee’s – would you be about those jim?.

    right now the tee type is a far secondary issue to the printer / ink. and it’s a special printer too, it not just fabric ink running through any old thing.

  • Nijma

    Then you need technical advice from an ink guru. Maybe someone has solved the same problem before.

  • Jim

    Oh, union tees would be just super-cool.

    I know that big outfits like CafePress struggled long and hard to get white ink to work, so I am in no hurry to see small outfit Skreened drive itself into bankruptcy trying to do the same.

  • Iroquois

    Of course it’s a business decision–I hope. But never underestimate the power of gossip. If I had one product that ruined another $400 product, I would be mentioning that to both product reps every time I saw them. What’s wrong with a print head that gets ruined by print ink? What’s wrong with print ink that ruins equipment? Somewhere there’s an answer about solvents, mixing ratios, reburbishing or cleaning of damaged equipment, something. I would be curious to know, just to Sometimes people will tell you things in person they would never put in writing.

    Last year I kept seeing all these white skulls on black tees–and sneakers, scarves, jewelry…. Today I saw another white spider on a black jacket, and thought of Skreened.

  • I did get paid and it took a while, but they are very, very, very small. I’ve been selling more shirts and will be getting another check in a week or so. While I’m bummed about Goodstorm, I’m sticking with them during this long growing phase. They have always kept their promises, even though it took a long time, my customers have received really excellent quality shirts, and they have improved the delivery times. I feel that things will improve in the new year and we should give them another chance. I do believe they will be changing their profit structure because so far, from my own internal mathematics and having tried to fulfill my own orders in the past (with equipment and all), their current structure is not sustainable on their part. They need to make more than 70/30 in my opinion. So hopefully, even if the artists get less profit per shirt, it will be better than Cafepress and it will be dark, ethically made too. Try again later and contact me at my site to get the direct number to someone there who answers the phone and who has really helped me work with them.

  • Jim

    Well, Christina, I’m glad it worked for you. We got the latest promise for a check at the beginning of November, telling us that, by gum, they sure would get us our check within three weeks, for real, for sure this time. Guess what we haven’t received. It’s been a year since we were first promised payment, and we haven’t gotten a cent. I see no reason to trust Goodstorm, especially considering that there are alternatives like Skreened out there.

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