Season: One

Episode: Three

Date: FEBRUARY 2016

As a multi-million dollar t-shirt company built on a multi-million member community of artists and designers, threadless is more art curation club than retail giant. And while the brand was built on cool and unique tees, calling them a t-shirt company is a bit misleading.

Threadless was born in the year 2000, from the minds of artist/programmer duo Jacob DeHart and current CEO, Jake Nickell. Back then, the idea was simple: to create a platform where anyone could create and upload their own design of any subject or style, and have the community of ‘makers’ vote on which shirts would get printed. At Threadless, they simply call this “Make Great Together.” It’s a slogan that adorns their 45,000 square foot headquarters in Chicago’s West Loop, and it’s been the cornerstone of their success for the past 15 years.

Threadless’ success is also one of the best recorded examples of crowdsourcing, well before it was even a word, let alone a business model. But more than mere strategy, Threadless remains deeply dedicated to their community of artists and promoting their work; the t-shirts they sell are simply a single canvas for the art they curate in Chicago and around the world.

In this episode of 12 for 12, Adam visits their gallery/warehouse headquarters to find out how making great together has helped Threadless build such a vital enterprise and booming brand.