03 Feb Customer Spotlight- Explorer’s Press

Here at Astro we find ourselves very fortunate to work with some of the most creative and successful people in the business. Many of them are small businesses who have printed with us since the beginning, and we’ve been able to watch them flourish and grow over time. It’s pretty awesome.

Explorer’s Press is one of those companies. Founded by artist/designer Brendan Megannety in 2012, it’s become a truly successful  Canadian independant brand. Explorer’s press aims to ‘help you personalize the everyday’, with a wide array of products from pins to tshirts to backpacks, designed by Megannety himself, or through collabs with other artists.

We asked to pick Megannety’s brain a little bit to find out what has and hasn’t worked for him, what his process is like, and what kind of advise he can offer anyone who is starting out. Luckily, he was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to oblige us,  because his answers are worth their weight in gold! This really is a ‘must read’ for anyone who is hoping to try their luck at starting their own Clothing/ Accessories brand. Check it out!

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Explorer’s Press is a great example of a successful small business, something many of our clients are looking to achieve for themselves. It can be a lengthy process of trial and error. How did you start out?

I guess I kind of just fell in to creating a brand. I was doing more fine art stuff – showing photos and painting, self publishing books and making prints. I ended up making a few 1” buttons and a patch to throw in with a zine and someone put the patch on tumblr and it kind of blew up from there. 

What was the first item you designed/released for Explorer’s Press?

The black and white “Set No Path – Never Lose Your Way” patch.

There seems to be great brands that are in the same vein, offering similar gear, popping up all over the place. As awesome and strong as this homegrown community is getting, what do you feel sets you apart from your competitors?

I feel like a lot of current independent brands just design stuff that riffs off of pop culture – Simpsons, Seinfeld, whatever. All of my designs are totally original top to bottom, and a lot of them are based around slogans that I think up. I’d like to think that sets Explorer’s apart from a lot of other brands. I don’t really like the term “competitor” because if you’re on your own and doing your own thing, thats rad and I’m happy for you – just try and keep it original.

Screen Shot 2016-02-03 at 11.57.03 AMYou have customers that span the globe, thanks to technology. Did you find it difficult to get your name out there and build your online presence? Any tips or tricks?

I really don’t know how my following got so big. Having good product is obviously #1 – you could have the best product shots, look books, and whatever but if your product sucks nobody is going to want to look at it. We use a lot of customer generated content on Instagramm etc. these days and its super nice to see the how the customer styles the product and getting to interact with them is super fun.

As the designer, you must have ideas for new product lined up. How do you decide what to release next?

No rhyme or reason. Design 3 things or 10 and when they all land in the studio then we release them. Focusing on accessories has been great because you don’t have to release in seasons if you don’t feel like it. I just do whatever I want, I guess.

What has been your largest obstacle to date?

Trying to navigate the tricky Canadian postal system has been tough. Getting the rates down so you aren’t over or under charging is really important. I used to go to the post office with 150-300 packages weekly. Now I have it all streamlined so that everything is labeled at the studio and it gets picked up on a daily basis. It took a lot of trial and error but I think its more or less figured out!

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You started Explorer’s Press in Toronto, but then made the move to Vancouver. What keeps you coming back to Astro?

I really respect the work ethic of the owner’s at Astro (Mike and JD). I worked at Astro for about a year before Explorer’s Press became my full time job. The dudes were in the shop printing along side us every day and I’m happy to call them my friends. I saw first hand how seriously everyone takes print quality. I never have to worry about getting crappy shirts that I don’t feel comfortable selling. I’m stoked to support a smaller print shop and it keeps me in touch with the guys, which rules.

Most of our clients have a pretty limited budget when they’re first starting out, and there are so many options when it comes to screen printing. How many shirts? How many colours in the design? What brand of shirt? How do you find you get the most bang for your buck?

I’ve always printed on Fruit Of The Loom 3930R shirts because they take the print the best. Our dark shirts are printed discharge and they turn out very nice, plus I like the fit. Most of our prints are 1 colour because I like simple, bold designs. How many shirts is a tough one, but I’d say in terms of a size break down, I always do twice as many medium and large shirts as I do small and XL. If you can spring for it, printed inner labels are a great way to finish off a garment and really make it look professional. 

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Do you have any sage words of wisdom for anyone who is looking to start their own brand?

Worry more about your designs than how many people follow your company on Instagram. If you have cool stuff, people will notice it. Do what you want. Be original. Get a good desk chair. Structure your life as if you were working for someone else. Set an alarm to wake up at a reasonable hour and get your ass to work. 

What’s next for Explorer’s Press?

Who knows. 

Big Thanks to Brendan Megannety of Explorer’s Press. Make sure to check them out at explorerspress.com.

Article By Emma Hanninen