On the evening of September 11th, heavy rain began to raise the creek level of the small mountain town I called home: Jamestown, Colorado. Over the next few days, the town was ravaged by floodwater and suffered great damage.
With my history of creating artwork to raise money after Colorado’s wildfires, I put my talent into a t-shirt design for my own beloved town. I’ve designed many t-shirts before but had never handled my own printing. I found an online company that would print and ship them at a good cost, so that all the profit can be donated to the Rebuild Jamestown Fund.
I started taking orders on my site on September 24th and they became popular right away. Thousands of dollars poured in during the first couple weeks followed by slower but steady sales. With people getting anxious for their shirts, I began the process of ordering them in late October.
As it turned out, through the printer I had chosen, I had to have California and Indiana business licenses to sell products in those states, even though I am in Colorado. I had already taken orders from people in those states. I had to find a different printing company.
Mind you, all of this happened while my family was displaced from our home, later able to return and live with limited utilities. It was while searching for a new home, packing our house to move out of Jamestown, and then move - with my wife and 10 month old baby. This wasn’t a normal move because road access to town was extremely difficult, especially for a moving truck. The move took several days and it would be several more before I could begin looking for a new shirt printer.
People who ordered were already asking for their shirts, but all I could do was apologize and honestly say that I was working on it.
The new printing company in Denver gave me a discount so even more money would go to Jamestown. But they’re not entirely set up for taking the orders the way I had done so. I had to halt taking orders so I could manually process the printing. It took time to create the shirt designs in their online system. It took days to tally my orders and figure out how many of what sizes to print. Then the shirts went into production, which took about a week. After the shirts were printed and ready in their warehouse, it took me days to manually enter the hundreds of orders individually, copying and pasting names and addresses, and double checking shirt sizes for each. Living in our new home in a state of semi-unpacked chaos, and with the laborious process regarding the printer, getting the shirts printed and shipped took well over a month. All shirts had finally shipped out by November 18th.
“Where are my shirts?”
I got this question almost daily via email. Every step took longer than I estimated. It pains me that it took this long. I hate to have strung people along. I hate not playing my best game of communication.
There were times when I didn’t have good access to the internet, or even access to my computer. There were times when I had to delay acting on the shirts because I had to figure out under what roof my family would sleep next. If I had done this fundraiser under normal life conditions, the generous people who bought shirts for Jamestown would have received them much earlier.
The shirts have been a disaster of their own.