And now for the interview. You will note that it has been edited down a little but just to remove some fluff (largely my own). The interview is pretty long so I have shifted some of the conversation to an extended section (apologies).
Ok, baby with mom, let’s chat about Springleap
what would you like to know Paul?
what is Springleap, where did the idea come from?
Well – Springleap is an empowerment initiative for South Africa
ok, sounds broad …
ranging from the cotton manufacturing trade, through the garment manufacturing industry to the retailers and all the amazing talented artists who deserve a platform for exposure
so basically bringing clothing and local artists together?
Eric and I opened the doors to eSquared Fashion 2 years ago and our business model was to scour the world for amazing artists producing original desings on 100% cotton
specifically with an emphasis on Asia.
Yeah, Eric mentioned it to me when I met him last year
TO answer your question Paul – yes : in a way that has never been done before.
… the rest of the conversation …
is this the good stuff?
we believe that all the talent we need and ability to produce product was right here in SA
Nic Haralambous will love this …
What do you mean “the good stuff?”
ah yeah – his blog rocks
I am a very proudly SA guy
well, the innovative model that creates positive opportunities for SA …
… the good stuff
I have loads of friends in the industry who we would love to see EXPLODE onto the scene
ah yeah 🙂 that’swhat I thought
The thing is Paul : there is SO MUCH talent here in SA
Well, let’s talk specifics …
how does the process work from the perspective of an artist?
and it is just waiting and yearning for a medium.
very simple : The Artist joins springleap (no costs and very quick) and downloads a t-shirt template pack (only about 1.4MB) which has a tshirt in 12 colours for them to choose from available in Photoshop, Illustrater, Flash and Freehand
They then decorate the shirt with their design and re-upload it to springleap where the community votes on them
they will also soon have the ability to create an entire profile about themselves and can already blog.
Users can critique the work as well as vote
ok, very nice
That way the artist can get a very real impression from the mass public regarding his or her work
Would the choice of software package to support limit artist involvement? Is the software readily available?
We chose industry-standard software which allows the artist to design in either vector-based or rasterised graphics. This way everything also runs really smoothly when it’s time to go to print.
One question which comes to mind is how a struggling artist can participate if the artist doesn’t own a PC with the required software?
I imagine there may be an opportunity for some sort of studio where artists can bring their work and have it translated into the right format for upload?
Very good question, and one that plagued me for a while
An interesting initiative I am working on as a test model is with African Art Centre in Durban. They deal with loads of amazingly talented African artists who don’t necessarily have computers, and we are trying to find a solution to empower these artists together.
That seems like a great model to really empower those artists
Regarding other users, at this stage we are focusing on people with computers and in the future I have some ideas that I would like to thrash out such as hiring a lan for a day to do this sort of cool thing for those that don’t have computers readily at their disposal.
almost like a lab?
yeah – not a constant one, but once in a while
Our main focus for now is to make sure that all the systems are great, quality control is perfect and that we are able to build of strong foundations.’
so that is very much the future for the moment.
What about ownership of the designs and the use of the designs on the shirts?
One must consider that from very early grades now, children are introduced to design on PC – so there is an enourmous talent pool out there from really young ages ranging through to the proffessional level.
All art must be totally original when submitted to us – we are really hardline on this issue. We are interested in creativity – not reguritation or theft of design.
our team loves to scour the net regularly looking at design, so it’s going to be hard to pull one over our eyes. We cover this issue quite well in our terms and conditions which must be accepted before an artist submits their design.
What I was getting at was whether the artists retain the rights to their work or whether there is a transfer or license of some kind?
If the designer is one of the 20 winners of the month, we retain the copyright and they retain the credit. In return they receive MASSIVE exposure, cash and recurring revenue – all of which will grow as the springleap grows. In a year from now we want to be giving the guys MASSIVE prizes every month and increased production numbers will equate into increased revenue and exposure for that artist.
If the design is not one of the 20 winners, the copyright reverts back to the designer
within 90 days
sorry – after 90 days
What about licensing the work from the artist under something like a Creative Commons license?
sorry Paul – isn’t that like an “open source” model for the design – (might be off the ball here). Ultimately we are also building a business here that requires us to have the exclusive rights to that design. Without it the business model will fail and the so will the artists chances for real exposure.
the model we selected is good for longevity of both.
well, there are 6 CC licenses that permit a range of uses of the content
btw – we are also intending for the creation of other products from that design as well such as limited edition posters which the artist gets recurring revenue as well
please tell me more.
My 10c is that it can be more empowering to let artists retain copyright, license designs under an appropriate CC license that permits you to do what you do
but more about your product
It’s a very good point Paul – but it is important to also note that for us to run this model, we need exclusive rights to that copyright. Sould that artist change their mind in the future or should something happen to them, we will have invested cosiderably in that design and artist to be placed at risk.
how does the process work for someone who wants to get one of these awesome shirts?
This is where the business model becomes quite elegant
(I need a wardrobe refresh)
When voiting for tshirts, one can be informed if and when that design becomes available. It will be available in eSquared stores, Big Blue and off the springleap website for the first 30 days
thereafter the remaining stock is pulled from the shelves and goes into a vendor backend. THis backend also reflects voting on that shirt and other stats.
are shirts available from the vendor backend?
where can people find eSquared stores?
Anyone buying a minimum of 24 tshirts at a time can apply to become a springleap vendor and enjoy having amazing 100% SA garments on their shelves that they know are going to sell as well as enjoy the benefits of massive marketing engine
something that no one else has ever offered shops in SA
is there a revenue share or out and out sales to vendors?
We will be selling in 3 Big Blue stores as our major partner from day 1 : Kalk Bay, Irene and Rosebank – and soon thereafter in all their 18 stores
You can find an eSquared in Cape Town, 11 Regnet Rd, Seapoint as well as in Durban, 161 Gordon Rd, Morningside.
out and out sales to vendors.
SO basically we sell the shirt to the vendor and the artist get’s their commission.
ok, so Joburgers go to Big Blue?
That’s correct, or buy live from the website.
As we get more vendors online the will be displayed boldly on our homepage and within the website.
online sales options?
It’s really a VERY difficult maket for vendors out there Paul, and this is going to help them a lot.
We accept primarily Credit Card, but are considering ET – we just don’t want to make our affiliates unhappy.
ok, so what are the big benefits for vendors?
that’s EFT – but we accept ET as well – good movie
very good movie 😛
Speaking from experience with eSquared, it is very difficult to procure good stock that is regular in SA
The local fashion designers aren’t exactly swimming in cash and that makes supply enormously erratic.
The other side of this is that they do not provide any real marketing or exposure.
We provide both in a huge way and link to their website (should they hve one).
We also provide a price point for vendors that is lower than they can buy from most of the local guys, very often by a very large margin.
or do you make money from sales, period?
I was getting to price point …
AND of course the voting system gives them a good idea of the pulic’s desire to procure that item
so what will these shirts cost your customers?
not to mention the awesome quality, production and presentation – and totally SA. Top to bottom.
The tshirts are R183.00
what is your revenue model? where do you make your money?
Oh yea – we are also VAT registered – a very cool bonus.
In the long run, Paul.
Are you guys bootstrapping or do you have some form of VC funding?
it’s a hugely expensive endevour but we believe in the industry and SA.
Eric has found the backers but we built this off our investments with 2 long hard years of work with eSquared Fashion. All our cash went into this
I see there are “blogger warz” going on, what is that about? Looks like fun …
The blogger warz : we pit 2 bloggers every month against each other. They work with a designer to come up with their own original designs. The blogger with the best voted design wins R2000 which is donated to a charity of their choice.
watch out for celeb waz and designer warz soon.
This month’s winner goes up against Rafiq next month who was featured on Carte Blanche
one thing I forgot to metion is that the name of the artist as well as the name of the artwork is proubly emblazed on the back of their winning design tshirt
have an idea how to come with a designer
awesome! – I love to see what individuals come up with
everyone has such a specific flavour to thier thinking and it’s incredible to be witness to this process
we’re launching the springleap SEO comp – on the 1st April at 12am (noon) SA time, judges will take a screenshot on google.com with the search “springleap”. 3 points for top, 2 for 2nd and 1 for 3rd. the overall 2nd place gets R1000 & 3rd R500. if springleap is knocked out of 1st – the winner gets R2500
all that is required – take a screenshot on the 1st april, send it to us, and get publicity for yourself / company
that sounds interesting
so if run a Google search and if Springleap isn’t first on the list then whoever has most 1st place rankings will win R2 500?
Yup! Spot on
so you’re pushing people to blog about springleap like crazy?
More importantly we are curious to see who the best SEO guys are (Eric thinks he’s preeetty good ;))
well, so far springleap is on top but Charl and the iMod guys are getting close
yeah – but are they good enough (Eric asks)? 😀
well, I am not sure if anyone can match Eric … but stranger things can happen …
a final thing :
it was a bit nuts 😐
inside the tshirt’s hem, every month, we include a positive message to uplift people : so when you put on your shirt, you read something that is going to make you remeber of the wondersous reality that you live in. (this will also be a monthly competitions coming soon). We call it “Positivity”