James Fernando was only 16 years old when his high school Economics teacher required their class to set up a business. His classmate, Mike Gallego, had a knack for designing shirts and they teamed up to create their first t-shirt business called I’m A Bosco.
To their surprise, the community loved their shirts. The first 100 items got sold out within a few hours. By the end of the project, the initial capital of their class grew fourfold.
As a college student, Fernando did not lose his entrepreneurial streak. When he and his friends noticed that the De La Salle University wasn’t selling a branded hoodie, he and his school mate RJ Villegas decided to put up a t-shirt business, Animo Nation.
“At the age of 17, we did everything—from sourcing shirts in Divisoria to manning our booth,” he says. “We discovered that other students also wanted their own basic DLSU hoodies. And so, the first batch of hoodies got sold out within a few hours.”3
Within a week, they sold more than 800 items, most of which came from pre-orders. Their initial capital of Php8,000 grew 70 times. This basic DLSU hoodie is still worn by students and alumni today.
“These experiences exposed me to the unseen problems faced by young shirtpreneurs such as unsold inventory, insufficient payment channels and lack of efficient logistics solutions,” says Fernando.
This was how he came up with the idea of a website that would address these problems.
The beginnings of shirt.ly
In September 2014, James launched shirt.ly, an e-commerce platform that allows "shirtpreneurs" to create their own t-shirt business. To create a store, users simply need to upload their logo and store name on the shirt.ly dashboard. Then, users would have to upload high-resolution design files of their product. When the files are approved, they can start selling. All these take place in within two days.
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