TEES ON TOAST
PR: Phoebe Rolls
RW: Ruby Weatherall
RW: 11.07.94 (We’re both year of the dog)
RW: Leeds and London
RW: I’m still a student. Currently finishing my 4th and final year at Leeds University
PR: Still deciding really. Playing around with lots of ideas and trying to gain as much experience as possible. But I am definitely interested in start-ups and the creative industry
Tees on Toast
Did you go to university?
PR: YES – We both did
RW: That’s where we met !
If so.. Where did you go, what did you study and how did you do?
RW: We both went to Leeds, the dream of all dreams. I studied Art & Design and finished last year, landing a very exciting 2.1
RW: I study Chinese, pushing on through til Summer
PR: We had a bloody ball
Was it necessary in hindsight to what you’re doing now?
PR: University has without a doubt taught me how to learn and the importance of learning, two essential skills for life and improvement
RW: One hundy p. And learning Chinese has taught me the arts of discipline and communication, both essential for starting a business. I was also able to take my second year out in Shanghai which was unreal
PR: When she left we had to put Tees on Toast on hold, but it also gave us the opportunity to play around with photography individually and in totally different cultural contexts
RW: Pheebs came to visit which was unbelievable. We did a big trip to Xi’an and Beijing, formulating our ideas for Tees on Toast on one of the gruelling 5 hour train journeys
Was it a clear-cut path after you left in terms of what you wanted to do?
PR: I am still deciding, I was working at Spring photography studios, but have now made plans to go travelling in January. I plan to see as much of the world as possible, while focusing on my photography and snapping for Tees on Toast
Exactly what is Tees on Toast?
PR: Ru, you take this one
RW: Through the medium of film photography we aim to encourage individuality by offering the opportunity for people to make a simple t-shirt a personal item. In the era of ‘the filter’ and digitally enhanced ‘selfies’ we encourage film photography as an art form, and play with light, color and subject matter to evoke the erotic, grotesque or nonsensical. Every tee is a one-off that displays a raw, unedited image taken on film (or disposable) camera, and their individual names are printed below. Each tee is removed from our online gallery once purchased, making it a truly unique product. We only print on L, XL or XXL black t-shirts, the single consistency across our purposefully unbranded brand.
How did the idea for your company come about?
PR: The idea came about in our first year at Leeds, as a combination of two things really. First was our shared passion for film photography and realizing that between us we had a huge portfolio of images that weren’t being used for anything in particular, and that we wanted to display them in a new and exciting way.
RW: I guess the second was that we both love t-shirts but hate that people are expected to pay up to £50 for a simple item of clothing that isn’t even unique.
PR: So Tees on Toast was born: 1 of a kind black t-shirts that feature a raw, unedited image taken on film or disposable camera.
RW: We love that they exhibit our artwork in an unusual way, worn on people in public spaces rather than hung statically in private homes
Why the name?
RW: Because it sounds like cheese on toast
PR: and what do you eat when you don’t know what to have for Brekky?
PR: The same as when you get up in the morning and you don’t know what to wear, so you grab a t-shirt
What have been the biggest challenges you have faced in setting up Tees on Toast?
PR: keeping up with our film photography and consistently producing images that we are happy to sell has been a challenge. We never want to upload images half-heartedly, we always want each image to stand out as a unique piece
RW: starting a business while still at Uni was amazing for the environment but difficult to juggle with our time, especially when building the website
Who did you seek advice from and who really helped you in the early stages?
RW: A lot of our friends
PR: Especially both of our siblings
What do you have to remain consistent about in running your company?
PR: Producing fresh photography and coming up with their captions
RW: Easily our favourite part of the whole process
PR: A lot of time has been put into developing the brand and making sure people understand that what we do is unique, that we only use film and that every t-shirt is a one-off.
Do you ever doubt yourself?
RW: Of course. Online customers have a tendency to surprise
PR: Sometimes we think what the hell are we doing.. but when we see someone wearing one of our tees or someone saying they love our idea its just the best feeling in the world.
How do you market yourselves?
PR: Mainly through social media as its free and fun
RW: And a lot by word of mouth, selling at fairs, handing out business cards, sticking stickers, you name it
PR: We also sent Valentine’s cards to all our customers this year
RW: As a big thank you for spreading the black tee love
How big is your team?
PR: We have an amazing relationship with our manufacturer who agreed to produce each tee individually. Our point of contact is with the loveliest lady called Violett who processes all our orders, she’s a saint
RW: Otherwise its just the two of us. Though we owe a whole load of thanks to Keith at WIX Website support who kept cool as a cucumber during many a long-winded phone call
What do you wish you had known then that you know now?
PR: Everything there is to know about Excel spreadsheets
Any mishaps along the way?
RW: We were invited to sell t-shirts at a Christmas fair last year but didn’t actually manage to order the tees on time. We spent a very funny day wearing our sample tees and selling tea and toast instead. No better marketing than a fresh slice of PB & J
Any personality traits you never realised you had setting up TOT?
PR: I once managed to persuade a man to buy a t-shirt in an Uberpool within the space of about 10 minutes before he got out. Can’t quite decide if that means I’m pushy or persuasive?
What would you say the other person’s strengths are?
PR: Ruby is extremely efficient at getting things done
RW: Also known as Mrs Boring
PR: But also a fantabulous photographer
RW: As are you, and worlds more wonderful with B&W. And you always manage to stay positive and have faith in the brand, even during periods of less productivity
PR: We always discuss how we wish we could see the world through each other’s eyes, and see Tees on Toast as the closest thing to it
What advice would you give other twenty-something’s who are thinking of pursuing a career in this field?
PR: Just do it
RW: Don’t hang around
PR: And if its going to be online, use WIX.com as a website domain. It’s great.
What do you think the next steps are for you?
PR: For the time being we are going to keep on doing what we are doing as it seems to be working well. We are releasing Long Sleeve very soon!
RW: We also have some exciting collaborations in the pipeline, as well as our first official promotional video
PR: Sadly we cannot discuss the finer details. So watch this space!
What has been your best moment so far?
RW: The first time we got an online order from a total stranger
PR: and then walking into a pub and seeing 5 people wearing a Tees on Toast T-Shirt, a few of which we didn’t know
What’s the dream?
RW: For everyone who knows about and appreciates what we do to be the proud owner of a Tees on Toast t-shirt!
PR: We want to encourage individualism through the medium of film photography, and want people to take pride in their choice of Tees on Toast t-shirt. Just because it’s a t-shirt doesn’t mean it can’t function as a unique work of art.
RW: We are also always looking for collaborations with like-minded photographers. If anyone reading this is a keen film photographer please do get in touch 🙂
Contact TOT ; firstname.lastname@example.org
Tees on Toast Website
Video CreditMarcus Ebanks