Tee Talent, a social enterprise based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada.

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It Is Time to Evolve

February 26, 2017

When I came up with the idea of Tee Talent in 2015, I was so excited about the business and the possibility of helping solve a social problem: the lack of employment for individuals with disabilities. Later I realized that my business model could work, but a huge effort had to be made in terms of promotion. You can't just launch a brand and expect people to know about you without spending any money. We sold some t-shirts to Canada, USA, Brazil and even Tunisia. I was elated every time I received an order , but it was not enough.    

 

"I was so excited about the business and the possibility of helping to solve a social problem: the lack of employment for individuals with disabilities." 

 

Then, at the beginning of 2016, the idea of offering services to companies appeared to be more effective and scalable. In addition, the business development aspect would open the door to new opportunities. We  considered having our own printing shop and I was learning a lot about the t-shirt production business, even though I've never decorated one myself.

 

In July 2016, we turned Tee Talent into a corporation and, with it, a new structure came to be. Now we had three business partners trying to establish a company. We had a t-shirt supplier in Brazil that could give us the advantage of having high-quality products and customized t-shirts. In addition, we were selling t-shirts to clients solely based on the fact that they loved our concept of promoting the talent of individuals with disabilities. This approach was beginning to open doors.  We even gave some interviews to local newspapers and blogs. 

 

It was clear to us that our concept was working. We reached 2k followers on Instagram. People were even interacting with us more on social media, giving us feedback about our business. However, it was not resulting in sales for our t-shirt line. In addition, we had a problem with our Brazilian supplier and we were back to two business partners once again.

 

"Our passion and everything that motivated us to build this company were still there."

 

With so much stress, it was hard not to think about shutting down the company, but we knew we couldn't give up so easily. Our passion and everything that motivated us to build our company was still there. We had to learn from our mistakes and see that many successful companies, at some point, had their moment of "F#&% this s!%#, I give up".

 

In the middle of this mess, I realized that we should invest our time and effort in something that would require less capital. Although we loved our t-shirt designs, we had to make a decision: either we focus on generating money and making the company self-sufficient, or declare bankruptcy in a few months. So we decided to put our t-shirt line on stand by and focus our activities on B2B solutions. We started working with multiple t-shirt suppliers in order to have a broad range of options for our clients. However we knew that t-shirts would not be enough. We came up with the idea of introducing new services to our portfolio. Now, Tee Talent offers promotional items, graphic design services, and public speaking. Tee Talent is no longer a t-shirt company, but a social enterprise focused on offering marketing solutions to companies that are looking for something that goes beyond basic services. We offer what the traditional promo companies offer plus a social impact and the opportunity for our clients to connect their brand to a social cause. 

 

We have been receiving many inquiries about our new services, which we are thrilled about. Only time will tell if this was, in fact, a good move, but we are optimistic. Let's see what the future has in store for us. 

 

 

 

 

 

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