KC clothing upstart Charlie Hustle has thoughts on how you kick start. Given his past success, we would listen.
Time named it one of the “Best Inventions of 2010” and The New York Times called it “the people’s NEA (The National Endowment for the Arts).” If you’ve never heard of a Kickstarter campaign, that ends now.
Launched by three Brooklyn-based entrepreneurs in 2009, Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform that gathers money from the public to fund creative projects. Pretty much anyone can launch a project on Kickstarter.com as long as it meets the company’s guidelines.
Countless local companies have used Kickstarter campaigns in recent years to launch their brands or raise money for new projects. One of the most notable examples is vintage T-shirt company Charlie Hustle.
Chase McAnulty started Charlie Hustle in May 2012 and quickly established a cult following – proof that no Kansas Citian can resist the kitten-soft fabric of a vintage-inspired T-shirt with KC logos and sports-related witticisms emblazoned across the chest. And it certainly didn’t hurt that SNL comedian (and Overland Park native) Jason Sudeikis was spotted in People magazine wearing Charlie Hustle’s Danny and the Miracles shirt.
Last year, McAnulty and crew used Kickstarter to raise more than $20,000 to help launch Charlie Hustle’s Negro Leagues collection in collaboration with the Negro League Baseball Museum in KC.
“Having the opportunity to work with Negro League Baseball is a huge step for our brand and even more so an opportunity to teach America’s youth about that era,” the company wrote on its Kickstarter page.
“Our goal is to use the T-shirt as a canvas to bring the Negro Leagues to life, preserving the legacies of not only Jackie Robinson, but legends like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige and Rube Foster. Teams like the Kansas City Monarchs and the Pittsburgh Crawfords.”
We asked McAnulty, “What goes into launching a successful Kickstarter campaign?” He provided three tips that worked well for Charlie Hustle.
1. Take your time.
Can’t stress this enough. It’s easy to come up with a viable campaign, but running a campaign is completely different. Your goal is to hit your mark – that’s it – the rest is icing, but if you don’t, it’s all that work for nothing. We spent several months before launching and even had a kickback from Kickstarter telling us to go a different direction with it. As ready as you think you are, be twice as ready. Be prepared to be discouraged, but enjoy the ride.
2. Build a list of influencers.
You are going to need an army to help raise money. We saw tons of well-done campaigns on the surface, but they didn’t utilize the most important factor in crowdfunding, which is: the crowd. We spent two months gathering, contacting and preparing a group of people that were ready to hit the campaign trail as soon as we launched. Preparation is key.
3. Say, “Thank You!”
It was overwhelming to have so many people that were interested in our campaign, and we were extremely grateful to have that. This is someone else’s hard-earned dollar that you are receiving, and the fact that they believe in you enough to give it to you is a humbling ordeal. Make it a point to say, “thank you.” We did our best to thank all of our backers as they came in whether it was through Facebook, Twitter or a phone call. It also generated more interest as people just wanted to be a part of it and have that shout out. So thank your supporters early and often.
- Kathryn Jones