Above: Brandon and Robbie attempt to pose like fashion models. Not quite Zoolander-level "blue steel."
The idea for Knitpick Collective was hatched during the 2020 pandemic. I had just moved to Seattle with my wife and kids and we were living with Robbie, who had his own studio apartment in the basement. We both had an affection for unusual tshirts, and knew lots of talented artists who had good stuff. I had learned to run a webstore for my other job (a site called Nerdcore Medical) and knew I could help our artist friends create a better online presence, since most of them just were not all that passionate about the commerce part of things, they think in terms of cool designs not customer conversion and SEO optimization. So Robbie and I started messing around on Illustrator and Photoshop to make our own designs while also emailing the artists we knew and explaining our idea. It had begun!
I also researched some of the "competition," and although there were some big players out there already, I didn't like the way the big sites just let anybody upload their stuff. There was no quality control. This was particularly apparent when one company had a PR nightmare after the Jan. 6 capitol insurrection when various users started uploading and trying to sell the hateful "Camp Auschwitz" shirts that had been seen in media footage of the capitol insurrectionists. The company got blamed for this, even though their business model just let users upload their own designs, even though they had been flagging and banning users during the whole fiasco. I didn't want to create something that could be twisted by hideous internet trolls, so I decided then and there we were going to be invite-only, and I would have to approve the designs myself.
Meanwhile, we needed a name for our new project, and unfortunately our propensity for comedy made it really hard to settle on a final brand name, instead we just kept cracking ourselves up with terrible ideas instead.
I also spent two weeks convinced that it would be hilarious to create a webstore where it was really hard to actually buy anything, and as you tried to navigate to the checkout, prompts would ask you "are you sure?" or try to divert your attention to something else or get you to click on something that took you away from checkout. We had some laughs, but we eventually settled on Knitpick Collective. And no, we don't want to make it hard for you to buy the shirts. Go ahead, it's ok, we won't stop you.