Here’s an English translation of our recent interview on the iDnes.cz Finance news server.
They came with T-shirts that tell a story.
To produce and sell T-shirts can be a big business failure. However for two Jan, Jan and Karolína it proves to be the opposite. Their business idea has drive and it is very successful in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and now it is heading to Europe.
The reason why the T-shirts have been so successful is they tell real stories about real heroes. They are reminding us for example of the story of the Czech aviator Josef František. Josef, a hero from the battle of Britain. A Czech war hero and an excellent pilot.
“I feel it like I owe a debt to society towards to these people. I wanted to show strong stories in a modern look and a professional design. So this is how Rescue was born and our slogan “Wear the story” said graphic artist Jan Tamchyna.
The business project started two years ago together with Karolína Jurečková and Jan Fišer. The amount of customers is rapidly growing.
“It is becoming that people buy even six T-shirts at the same time. Very often they are young people who are obviously interested in history, real heroes and legends. This is amazing news” says Jan Tamchyna.
“In front of us is still long journey” adds Karolína Jurečková.
“Everything is about hard work” notes Jan Fišer.
They are showing to people real stories of our history. “And it is unimportant if the hero of these stories is aviator, racing driver or a soldier. At the same time is unimportant if the hero was Czech, German, Russian or English. What is important is truthfulness and extraordinariness of the story which we are narrating. It is one form of education at the same time, because many of these stories you can hardly find in the textbooks” says Jan Tamchyna.
How did you get the idea to create T-shirts with a story?
Jan Tamchyna: T-shirt is for all designers a basic format. T-shirt is working like a information medium, by T-shirt you show to others something. I wanted heroes on them which I admire. I wanted to buy T-shirts like this but I realised that in shops was nothing like this.
SO you basically decided to design your self a new wardrobe full of tshirts?
Jan Tamchyna : Yes, exactly. I made the first two motives and started to wear them.
How was reactions of people?
Jan Tamchyna: Reactions were surprising. When you invent something, you never know if people would like it or not because your point of view is always very subjective. But my idea works and reactions were positive.
Karolína Jurečková: John is a big fan of things like this, he knows the amount of people who are interested in the same subject is huge. So because of this we started to believe that his idea has a huge potential and we decided to try and sell T-shirts online.
And it works? Is your collective business project is successful?
Jan Tamchyna: We increased the amount of work and it began to absorb us. The production process and design of T-shirts is time-consuming. Everything happens after time for our day jobs and our day jobs are also exhausting and time consuming.
Is your business idea aimed just at men or women too?
Jan Tamchyna: We are still finding out who is our target group of customers. From the very beginning we thought that it would be guys who come home, close themselves to work rooms (garages) and build a toy airplane until midnight. But it is not the real truth. A lot of customers are women. They buy T-shirts for husbands and boyfriends, and they even ask for children’s sizes. Because if you are interested in history and real heroes, you are transferring it to your children, and it does not matter if you are a man or a woman. There are also women who are asking if we are selling a women’s sizes.
Carolina Jurečková: Now we see that our target group of customers is much broader than we initially thought. Sometimes people like our T-shirts without any knowledge about the story which is behind the concrete picture, they like them just for their design.
Now you are not sole traders anymore but you have a company. Why this decision?
Karolína Jurečková: We felt that if we will have company, then our partners, suppliers and customers will be take us more seriously. When you are doing something just like a sole trader, you can look suspicious, but when you’ve got a real company it has a more serious character.
You describe your company like a group of friends is entrepreneurship possible?
Jan Tamchyna: It is, but we still fight (laughs). I have a motto: “If it’s not sparkling, it is not weld.”
When a company has three companions, what must be adjusted to make it work?
Karolína Jurečková: Because there are three of us, we have the rule that we vote. When the two of us have a different opinion, the third must retreat. We try to keep the company in a friendly atmosphere. Probably nobody wants to do business with partners with whom you don’t like. Businesses according to us is not just about business.
Do you want to be successful as a European brand, or are you trying to make a success overseas too?
Jan Tamchyna: This year we want to move on, we do not want to produce just T-shirts, we are working on other products too.
Karolína Jurečková: We are in the beginning, we want to do everything gradually, we do not want to rush to the market which is unknown for us. At this moment we sell in the Czech Republic and we focus on Europe. And then we’ll see.
In which European countries do you want to promote?
Jan Tamchyna: In Germany and England, they are now the main sites of our interest.
You are on the Internet, Facebook, you have your own blog which you have two Brits writing for. Is it difficult to succeed in this kind of business?
Jan Tamchyna: I think it’s very difficult, we are having disputes with my colleagues about it. From my point of view I see, that if you want to deal with certain partners in Western Europe as the Czech you still do not have a very good credit. You feel like under „microscope“.
So you have an online store, can you tell to us how many T- shirts you are already selling a month?
Jan Fiser: When we started, it was tens of pieces, now it’s in the hundreds of pieces monthly.
Invent a slogan for the company is not easy, yours is good. Who came up with the slogan: “Wear the story?”
Jan Fiser: It was Tamchyna.
Jan Tamchyna: It was an evolution, like everything. We knew that our business idea is about stories. The second thing was the slogan. The original version of the slogan was: “Tohle si vemeš na triko” Which sounds colloquially.
Karolína Jurečková: But it did not express quite the story.
Jan Tamchyna: Then we get to the point that we wanted our slogan to translate into English. But how to say in English: “Tohle si vezmeš na triko?” But you can say: “Wear the story”, then we just translated it into Czech.
In business is very important to set the right price. How it work in your case?
Karolína Jurečková: Discussions.
Jan Tamchyna: It was not discussions, but the fights (laughs).
Karolína Jurečková: You must come from the fact that you have fixed costs which you have to pay suppliers. Then you need to quantify the added value of intellectual property, the time which Honza spend on creating themes and our time that which we spend on it. They are tens and hundreds of hours, for example, one design is roughly three months. At the same time, we wanted the price was not overpriced to be available to people.
So you made the right decision about price?
Karolína Jurečková: Customers take it.
Jan Tamchyna: Compared to competitors, we are lower in the order of 200 to 300 crowns. But we think our price is set correctly.
Should I understand that something similar now is being done by other companies?
Karolína Jurečková: A lot of companies is doing design for the design to make it look nice. But in our case is behind every motive very powerful story. That is what makes us different.
Jan Tamchyna: Our brand is literally for geeks who are interested in war history, aviation and motoring. In this we are unique. Another brand which would cover this group of ‘maniacs’ does not exist.
And does exist lot of ‘history maniacs’ like this in the world?
Jan Tamchyna: There are hundreds of millions believe it. In addition, it is also a group of guys who may not be maniacs who in the evenings at home build aircraft, ships and things like that, but they have just interest in things like this or they had it when they were boys. Therefore, the motive of the T- shirt appeal them when they remember the old times.
Karolína Jurečková: Honza is one of them (laughs). He does not build planes anymore, but he will be always crazy about history.
So is the amount of customers growing?
Jan Fiser: growing and rapidly. The company’s turnover is increasing.
Do you have some reactions about your T-shirts from your customers?
Karolína Jurečková: We have. Just last week he received an email from a customer from Slovakia, who we sent several T-shirts. When the shipment arrived he wrote that they are perfect he showed us his support. He asked for more themes and gave us another tip that we could prepare. In this way it works, anybody does not return our T-shirts, we have not had a single complaint yet.
Is your company able to earn money for all three of you?
Karolína Jurečková: All of us are working in your jobs besides.
Jan Fiser: Because we are still investing. What we earn, we put into the company so far.
How much money you expect from this business?
Jan Fiser: One hundred million a month (laughs). I deliberately overestimate this. Our goal is to get the provide for all of us and be satisfied. And we would like to have satisfied the people who help us. That’s our plan. But it will take some time.
Jan Tamchyna: We determined how many shirts we have to sell in a month regularly. If we sell two thousands T-shirts per month, which is not impossible compare to the incredible amount of maniacs.
What does money mean to you?
Jan Fiser: Money is important to me, but I do not qualify it in the first place.
Jan Tamchyna: Money is freedom. They are a means to do what he really want. But I do not want to be in the richest people charts, it is rather a nuisance. Those people are losing their lives and their privacy.
Karolína: I feel the same way. Money is a resource that gives you the ability to do what you enjoy, not to be dependent on the employer and go to work, only to come every month on bank account some money.
When its time for a new theme for a T-shirt are you discussing it between yourselves?
Karolína Jurečková: This is mainly to Tamchyna, he is the creator, he is coming with ideas.
Jan Fiser: Then we discuss about it, to which period or anniversary particular motive put.
Tamchyna are you a fast creator?
Jan Tamchyna: I like to work on it, relax with it, only problem is that the plan of picture is subjective, you have no distance. Therefore, i do not do just one motive, I have always worked out four or five motives. I need to take the time and look on them after some time again. When you look at them from apart, what i would solve for example half the day, suddenly jumps in a minute. Sometimes it’s complicated now we are three months working on one motive. It still is not finished.
How many sketches you throw in the trash during working?
Jan Tamchyna: Not much, i usually throw it in the trash already in my head.
Karolína Jurečková: Honza has imagination, his profession is graphic-art director. He is creative, and everything is firstly in his head.
Jan Fiser: He is moreover a great stickler for detail, He does not miss any detail, it makes exclusive design. He for example returns to detail 10 times than he is satisfied.
If anyone would like to try something similar in business, what advice would you give?
Jan Tamchyna: Have patience, because when we started, it was not easy. From the beginning we had in offer only three motives, which is bizarre in retrospect. Who would have looked again into the Internet business, where there are only three shirts. You have to have patience and be happy with each success, each sold T-shirt.
Jan Fiser: It is important to be unique.
Carolina Jurečková: It’s also about good ideas. When you choose to do business in T-shirts, producers are thousands. You have to come up with something that sets you apart.
Jan Tamchyna (1977) has the company responsibility for the creative direction, invents motives, forms design and all promotional materials. He graduated from electrotechnic and Central School of Ceramics in Ústí nad Labem.
• Jurečková Carolina (1978) graduated from the University of Economics in Prague (majoring in International Politics and Diplomacy, minor Commercial Communications).
Jan Fiser (1978) graduated from the University of Finance and Administration (majoring in Marketing Communications).
Both are in charge of everything related to sales, business strategy, production, and customer accounts.
• Together they founded company RESCUE FASHION.