Collected Threads Exhibits at The West Coast Trend Show

Posted on March 05, 2015 by Jesse Szynal | 55 comments

jT was enabling higher fashion at the West Coast Trend Show in Los Angeles on Feb 7-9.  This was a chance to meet store owners from the western region - from Denver west and San Diego to Seattle.

Many brands, retailers, and sales representatives were in attendance for the three day event.  Labels that stood out were the beautifully crafted Quintessential line from Maceoo - open collar shirting and jackets of the highest caliber.  SAXX Underwear was on display as well with some of the most comfortable and functional underwear out there.  After scoring a couple samples we might just be customers for life.  

Ken Haruta, the show's organizer and one of the exhibitors, made sure to roll out the red carpet for all his guests.  No detail was left unturned including amazing a cappella by The Moonrays.  Ken pulled off a great show and we look forward to attending in August!  

Posted in Maceoo, MensFashion, MensStyle, TradeShow, Undershirts

Maxim Magazine’s Style Director Stan Williams Schools Us on Men’s Undershirts

Posted on October 29, 2014 by Jesse Szynal | 123 comments

Maxim Magazine's Stan Williams

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Stan  in Huntington Beach, CA last week.  He’s as solid as they come in the editorial world.  In addition to providing style advice to one of the best-selling  men’s magazines on the market (#1 or #2 depending on the time of day you ask), he’s taken time to help this start-up effort.  Over the past few months, Stan’s given me great insight and recommendations as to how to get the word out about the jT invisible undershirtand PR tips in general.  He thinks the product delivers on its goal and appears to dig it; enough to review the mens undershirt on the Maxim website.

Jesse: How long have you been in the fashion business?

Stan: I’ve been in the fashion business, oh [long pause, performing thorough calculations in his head]twenty years.

Jesse: So you probably know more about style than a guy who sold industrial controls up until 6 months ago?

Stan:  Maybe.  [I snicker,  Stan is deadpan.]

Jesse:  Onto undershirts, guys wear them for warmth, hygiene, and as part of their fashion. When do you wear them?

Stan:  I wear an undershirt every day.  I’ll wear them because I feel like it creates a clean finish between the clothes.  Also it protects my shirts from getting any sweat or deodorant stains.

Jesse:  When is it not ok to wear an undershirt showing in an open collar?

Stan:  You should only show you undershirt if it is part of your look – like if it’s a colored t shirt that is a contrast, or if it’s a texture that you want to show off underneath.  Otherwise you shouldn’t see it.

Jesse: I never understood the purpose of a tank top, aka, ‘wife beater’ unless you’re proudly displaying prison tats…are these ever a good idea as far as style is concerned?

Stan:  I think it really depends on the guy.  For me, I only wear them when I run out of other t shirts [Stan chuckles].  I think that you would only wear them if you’re wearing them to be seen.  But if you’re going to be wearing them to protect your clothing from sweat, deodorant, or antiperspirant, it’s not serving its purpose.

On our way out I asked Stan if he was wearing an undershirt as I couldn’t see one in his open collar.  Instead of telling me he unbuttoned his shirt two more buttons to reveal the jT from Collected Threads.

That’s what we’re talking about!

Posted in Fashion, Maxim Magazine, Style, Undershirts

5 Money Saving Tips for a Trade Show Exhibit on a Start-Up Budget

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Jesse Szynal | 93 comments


Let’s say you’re a start-up, and you spent most of your trade show budget just getting onto the floor.  Consider some shows can cost a small firm $3k-$7k for a 10 x 10 space depending on the industry.  Fashion shows like the renowned Project Men’s in Las Vegas fetched about $5500  for this space in August of 2013.

Here’s some cost-saving tips to consider at your next outing.

  1. Pay for the minimum space you need and look for opportunities for free upgrades.  How would you get upgraded?  Large trade shows have exhibitors signing up and canceling within days of the show.  Armed with this knowledge,  you can start calling your account manager about 1-2 weeks out and checking on the floor plan.  If they have cancellations, there will be empty booths potentially next to yours.  Trade show management would rather give you the space to use rather than have their exhibition floor look sparse.  We originally signed up for a middle aisle 6′ x 10′ booth and ended up with a corner 30′ x 10.’  While we only utilized 20′ feet, that size space could garner between $12 – 18k:  Our cost, $4k.  Downside, your booth number could be off in the printed materials at the show.  Upside?  Your start-up might get more attention looking like a powerhouse in a larger booth.
  2. Visuals don’t have to be expensive.  We used some of the professional photography we already owned and negotiated a better deal with an exhibit company to create an 8′ x 8′ free standing graphic and podium as shown for about $1300.  With the included lighting, this caught the eye of many interested buyers and was thousands below the cost of some custom built displays.  Something to note: even though you are buying a 10′ x 10′ space, you might actually get 9’8″ on the back wall due to the structures of the back walls etc.  This is important when ordering your signage as you would most likely not be able to fit a 10′ x 10′ backdrop into a 10′ x 10′ booth in many cases.  Also, it was important for us to have  display that could be re-used, reprinted, and travelled well.  This 8′ x 8′ from Ace Exhibits works quite well and the podium has storage for samples or giveaways with easy access.


    Budget Trade show Tips

    Backdrop Designed by

  3. Product can make a great visual.  Collected Threads was able to decorate a 20′ x 10′ space with one undershirt in 3 different colors.  How did we pull this off?  We spread the product out in the 2 versions of the box we have printed, front and back of the 3 packs, and we had the product rolled up in piles on the table in the center of the booth.  In addition, black bags with our stickers were used to fill shelf space and to carry off samples.  What’s great about these are the bags and stickers can be used at future events to defray the cost of giveaways.  Top off the booth with a few hanging shirts to show the product in action and most visitors assumed we were displaying more than 12 SKUs at the show.
  4. Dress up your booth with press releases and related photography on the cheap with the acrylic page holders.  Staples carries these in their stores and they won’t break the bank.  You will be surprised how much attention your past press will get you (think social validation) as well as photography that didn’t make it onto your packaging.


    Save money at your next trade show

    Low cost sign holders and bags

  5. Make friends with the union service manager!  This is no small feat as these workers can be quite busy during show setup and breakdown.  While it sounds like a strange recommendation, these folks have the power to do you favors that would otherwise cost some pretty high wages.  Charges for onsite electricians, carpenters and carpet installers are pricey but know the right people and they will take care of you without any paperwork.  Trust us.

Posted in

3 Steps to Developing Your Own Advertising Campaign

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Jesse Szynal | 160 comments

You're Not You When You're Hungry

Latest Snickers’ Ad Campaign


If you’re like many start-up companies, you might not have the budget for an ad agency to develop a marketing message and advertising campaign.  Luckily for us, we have a good friend in advertising who’s worked on multi-million dollar campaigns for Fortune 100 companies and is helping to craft the jT story.  While there’s no substitute for his creativity, training and real world experience, he did educate us on the process agencies use to deliver successful ad campaigns.

  1. Decide on one benefit of your product or service that you want to communicate to your audience.  This is key to ensure that your message is clear and not cluttered.  “It is important to note the benefit is not a feature of the product,” our mentor cautions, “it is the upside customers get from using the feature.”
  2. Create a Big Idea. The big idea houses your benefit in a unique way that allows you to create ads in any medium. The Big Idea often uncovers a truthful insight of the product. Let’s use the most recent Snickers campaign as an example. The benefit is that Snickers satisfies your hunger. Now for the Big idea, they found a truthful insight that we can all relate to, “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry.”
  3. Once you have decided on your benefit and created your Big Idea, it’s time to execute. This simply means it’s finally time to come up with some ads. While creating your ads, remember to convey your benefit and make sure they fall under your big idea. In the Snickers tv ads, they decided to depict how people are “not themselves when they’re hungry”, by cleverly showing regular people transforming into clumsy, cranky or irritable celebrities. When creating ads, your goal should be to make them interesting and memorable, the key to great ad copy.

Once the benefit and big idea are set, you can develop a whole host of delivery mechanisms to get this campaign to your customers.  From print to internet banner ads, TV spots, billboards, social media interactive apps, etc., all of your executions will reinforce your one benefit.  With enough exposure and assuming you nailed the key benefit, a segment of your target audience will also be convinced and take the action laid out in your original objective.

Last piece of advice from our expert is to collaborate often, “Working in a team will flesh out the best benefit and the best message to your intended audience.”  If you are a one person operation, bounce ideas off friends and family throughout the process above.  Show them the product and features and have them tell you the major benefits.  “You will be surprised how many people are willing to help when they see the passion you have for your work.”

Posted in Ad Campaigns, Advertising, SmallBudget, startup

4 Step Package Design on a Small Budget – CrowdSourcing!

Posted on May 16, 2014 by Jesse Szynal | 37 comments

Customers and buyers of the jT invisible men’s undershirt were giving us feedback regarding the retail packaging recently.

One of the main comments was that it had a slightly dated look because of the images used on the front of the box.  You be the judge:

Invisible Mens Undershirt Gets Redesign

Current Retail Box for the jT from Collected Threads

Rather than risk losing some potential customers, we thought we might design a secondary sleeve for the jT men’s undershirt that could be used over our existing box.  It was then we turned to the popular Crowdsourcing site, Crowdspring.  If you haven’t heard of “crowdsourcing,” it works like this:

  1. You, the buyer, post a project to the site for whatever it is you need.  You set the length of time and the award amount for each individual project.  This could be a logo design, retail packaging as described above, or a one of the 40+ categories available.
  2. ‘Creatives’ (artists, writers, graphic designers, etc) submit proposals to either a public area or a secure private portal.  If you’re concerned about privacy, you can ensure the creatives sign a generic Crowdspring NDA or your own.
  3. The proposals are then reviewed by you on a 5 star rating system and you leave comments for each of the submissions.  Because creatives are competing to win the bid, they make the requested changes and resubmit for review.
  4. At the close of the proposal period, you choose the winning work and pay the creative the award amount.  Crowdspring takes a fee over and above the award to host the project and provide the gathering place for the creatives.

Quality of Crowdsourced Work

There’s some really great designs as well as some not-so-great ones.  We found the more we submitted feedback in a timely manner, the more the creatives sent us relevant designs.   Check out some of these submissions:

Blog Screenshot


For this particular project, we put up $1200 for the award, $300 for the Crowdspring fee, and $99 for the Pro advertising package which kept me on the front page of the site for the duration.


If you have ever subcontracted a graphics design company, you might find you pay close to or more for 1-3 people working on the same design.  With Crowdspring, you can have 20-100+ creatives all bidding to win the work at the same time.  From our experience, this gets the project in front of a lot more creative minds.  We have 2 days left of a 2 week campaign and already  see 30-40 designs that would do well on a retail shelf out of 300 submissions.

For those with smaller budgets who are looking for maximum creativity, we would highly recommend the crowdsourcing model.

Posted in crowdsourcing, crowdspring, package design