Westerners familiar with Threadless, the online T-shirt company that accepts design submissions for quirky-cool shirts, might want to check out the European version: laFraise.com. (If you can’t speak or read French, then you should visit the English translation site.)
Though mainly an adult-oriented T company, laFraise has introduced a children’s line, all featuring cool, geeky designs and subject matter. Your 2-year-old might not know why a Wookie cuddling an Ewok on their “first date” is funny, but you will.
Though laFraise thrives on submissions from artists for their designs, the inner workings of the company require some hand-on management. That’s where Nathalie Tachet, laFraise’s PR and Community Manager, comes in. Tachet is a Parisian ex-pat living in Berlin, Germany who wears many hats at the company, including organizing SEO strategy, running the communications department and managing community outreach. Tachet recently took time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about laFraise.
Nerdy With Children: How do you market your products to children, or make them appealing so that their parents will buy them?
Nathalie Tachet: We mainly offer shirts for adults, but we decided to launch shirts for kids since our customers grew old and got children. It came from a customer’s request to offer varied products and among shirts for kids. Not all the designs that we put out in the shop are for adults, but as long as they are appropriate for children, we print them.
NWC: How have you managed to make your business stand out from your competitors?
Tachet: When Patrice Cassard founded laFraise in 2004, he took the American model of Threadless and applied it in Europe. Since the concept of the graphic design contest to print shirts was new in Europe, it made us stand out from our competitors.
Tachet: We are an ongoing graphic design competition. Graphic designers submit their work to the community and, once a week, laFraise makes a selection of winning designs. The winning designers get each 1,000 euros and a licensing agreement. We are re-launching competition with partners for better cash prizes. … After some time, the graphic designer can take the license back if he wants.
NWC: How can artists contact you?
Tachet: Artists can contact us via email, Facebook or Twitter. … I am behind FB and Twitter, and people know I am available to answer questions when I have the time. I always try to give an answer. We also have an intern graphic designer for our website and newsletter, but for the designs we sell in the shop, they come from freelancers or other graphic designers.
NWC: Your consumers? Are they geeky, nerdy, soccer moms — what?
Tachet: Our customers are between 20 and 35 years old, I would say, and some of them are already parents. Otherwise they are students or in the workforce. laFraise started as a shop for geeks and nerds but [now] laFraise tries to offer varied designs, not only for the same niche of people. Our customers tend to be more French, since laFraise is French, but our market is widely extended in Europe and we ship to the USA.
NWC: Since you are not aware of what designs will be submitted, how to you tailor particular designs to children?
Tachet: When there is a winning design, my colleague Thomas, who takes care of shirt releases, chooses which designs that can fit [into the] children’s category.