A few months ago, I tweeted that I wanted an introduction to Jake Nickell, the co-founder of Threadless.com. Threadless, as most of you know, is an online t-shirt phenomenon that practically invented the space that we now refer to as crowd sourcing. That might be a slight overstatement, but they certainly got into it before it even had a name. And they have done it with great class and respect for their vibrant, international community.
Well, the Twitterverse came through with an introduction (thanks, tweeps!). In a matter of a few hours, we were connected and soon after that, we were sitting down to lunch. Jake is everything you could hope he would be. Cool, smart, talented and a little shy.
My agenda was to talk about an idea. I had to use the very unique talents of designers and artists to communicate in ways that non-profits don't seem to be very good at. Namely, designers make it cool and fun and the issue comes through in a more human and organic way. Non-profits seem to just clobber you with facts. It can create message fatigue. So I had this friend who was crusading to create awareness around Genetically Modified Food, GMOs, Frankenfoods, etc., and I felt an almost Wacky Pack approach to making parody products, but that illustrate the dangers of GMO would be smart. My hope was maybe we could some how "borrow" the Threadless platform or be a project or something. So I threw out the idea and to my delight, Jake was not only open, but he had actually been thinking about what else they could do with their platform already. So we discussed some of the different ideas and they were all really smart, but we both kept coming back to the idea of a cause platform.
T-shirts have historically been a communication platform for causes and the medium seems to suit a message of cultural and social rebellion. The t-shirt has become the medium of choice for popular art, replacing the album cover as the people's art form. As art, it makes sense for it to take on the social issues and injustices that art takes on.
We had another meeting or so as Jake and his team went to work, and then I didn't hear anything for a while. Well I have this web show and Jake was an upcoming guest so I figured we would catch up then. Yesterday was that day and we more than caught up. Jake actually announced the plans to launch their new site during the live show. Threadless Causes. We've got a sneak peak here on the blog and the plan is to go live as a beta sometime this December. Everybody here at FearLess is really excited about the potential this has to create one new, great big, powerful community, by joining the best of both the cause community and the design community.
Please take a minute to comment below with causes that you would like to see take advantage of this amazing new platform.
By Alex Bogusky