Saturday, November 12, 2011

Product Development, T-Shirts? Best Laid Plans go Awry at First

A couple of years ago I over heard my wife and her sister discussing a new outfit my wife was wearing. They had shopped tirelessly the day before procuring all the elements to make this fashion statement a reality and were admiring their accomplishment. The shirt that made up part of this ensemble was a white tee shirt and during the course of the conversation my wife made the comment that it was "Just A Plain T-Shirt" and this peeked my interest.

I had been trying to think of an idea for a tee shirt that would represent my business in a unique way and it only took me a few seconds to transition this idea to "Just A Plane T-Shirt". Changing the word "plain" to "Plane" made it work wonderfully for my purposes.

Best Laid Plans:

I set about putting together the art work. I knew I wanted a simple two color design with one of the colors being the tee shirt color and the other being the color of an illustration version of my 875 plane. Everything was going great until I had the idea for the crowning touch. A shaving stretched across the bottom to sort of underline the rest of the illustration. It looked great on the art work. When I showed the art work to the person that would be handling the making of the silkscreen and producing the shirts, she sort of raised her eyebrows and pointed to the shaving and asked "what's that?"

I then explained to her the correlation between the tool and the shaving that it produces and assured her that people in the know about woodworking hand tools would appreciated this added detail. I should have picked up on her skepticism. After all she was a professional that produced artwork for tee shirts on a daily basis.

The Woodworking in America Conference in St. Charles, Illinois was approaching and I thought this would be the ideal time to introduce the new "Just a Plane T-Shirt". I ordered about 50 shirts in assorted sizes and two different colors. A week later she called informing me that my tee shirts were ready and could be picked up that afternoon. I was a bit excited to see my creation on the actual shirts so I popped into town that afternoon to pick up the shirts.

I reached in the box and held up one of the tee shirts to admire my creation and my err in judgement immediately jumped right out at me. The wonderful shaving looked like a piece of delicious BACON!

The woodworkers that attended the St. Charles WIA event held up my confidence and purchased nearly every one of the "Just A Plane T-Shirts". I was right, they got it, but many people did comment that the shaving looked like bacon. In fact my friends across the aisle in the L-N booth chided me all weekend about my bacon laced shirts. Of course I made sure that they all left the event awarded with what was to be later known as the "High Cholesterol, Limited Edition, Just A Plane T-Shirt". If you purchased one of those shirts you now own a Collector's item.

The next week the art worked was changed to what you see in the above photo and since then many woodworkers have become proud owners of the new version of the tee shirts. Of course this did not take nearly as much product development efforts as our hand planes. Our tools have evolved over a number of years and many small refinements have come together to result in tools that are very refined versions of what I began producing a little over 4 years ago.

Until now the "Just A Plane T-Shirts" have only been available at different hand tools events we attend throughout the year. I've recently began to offer these shirts thru our Online Store accessible thru the web page. Just access the Online Store thru the link on our "Pricing and Ordering" page of the web site. They're listed in the "Kits and Apparel" category of the store and if you wish to order multiples we have them listed in different quantities with reduced shipping cost for multiples.



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