Customizable apparel app Yoshirt closed on a $1.1 million seed round from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, Mesa Ventures and Resolute Ventures among other investors.
The Los Angeles-based firm has an app that helps consumers create designs and get them printed on apparel, cell-phone cases and other items. It’s a category that was forged by CafePress and also includes entrants such as Snaptee and Fashion Design Studio.
“I don’t really view anyone as a direct competitor,” said chief executive officer and cofounder Ben Williamson. “We have the ability for you to create on the go and it’s easier than going to the Gap or going to another retailer. We just give you the ability to express exactly what you’re looking for.”
The company’s founding team is a mix of backgrounds.
Williamson, prior to the founding of Yoshirt, had been angel investing — a break after 10 years spent at Apple. Franky Aguilar, a former designer at game maker Zynga, has published more than 40 iOS apps, and has a background in production art and design. The company’s third cofounder, Brian Garofalow, comes from the action sports and streetwear apparel industries, having worked as a marketing executive at RVCA and IVI.
Williamson declined to provide a revenue projection for this calendar year, but said his goal is to hit $6 million in sales in December alone.
The company, which makes money when a customer purchases the pair of leggings or shirt an image is being printed on, has gained a steady following. Roughly one-third of its orders are from repeat customers. It’s also seeing bulk orders, with a recent request for 300 shirts.
Consumers are also getting savvier, Williamson pointed out.
“It’s been really exciting to watch the progression,” he said. “Initially, we saw a lot of selfies….Now there’s a lot more original art and designs coming through.”
The funding will go toward helping the company address its biggest constraint, which is in the supply chain.
Yoshirt cuts and sews each garment as they’re ordered rather than printing on premade pieces of clothing, which adds time to the process but a level of quality that Williamson said is part of Yoshirt’s competitive advantage.
The company’s in the process of building its own factory in Los Angeles, which could be completed in the next 90 days. Yoshirt also has a factory partner in North Carolina.
“If my time at Apple taught me anything, it’s that if you want to exceed customer expectations, you want to own the entire process,” Williamson said.