Remember the days of Wildcat Welcome when you received your first purple T-shirt with bold white letters on it? The fact that you earned that T-shirt with acceptance into Northwestern filled you with elation. However, as days passed and you received more and more free T-shirts from different events, organizations, etc. – your closet gradually turned purple. Each T-shirt became no more than all the others in the pile of T-shirts that accumulated, and the excitement began to fade.
But, what if the T-shirts were designed by peers that understand what you want?
This thought occurred to Jenny Hendrix, the growth advisor of NSH. Having found a niche in the market, Jenny started Ink Tank, a custom apparel company on campus. By partnering with DesignWorks, Ink Tank acquired many designers who create logos or designs for merchandise for organizations if they cannot come up with their own. The unique selling point of Ink Tank is that all members are students and therefore, can create designs that appeal to other students. They know the conditions that Northwestern student organizations face, making it possible to optimize appeal based on the organizations’ needs.
However, being a student-run company also engenders many struggles. For instance, as a new startup, Ink Tank had to fill out a million-dollar insurance policy, which was a cumbersome task for a twenty-one-year-old like Jenny Hendrix. She often felt as if she should not be the one signing such important forms.
Moreover, when all employees are not paid and have innumerable academic obligations, it is difficult to complete all the tasks at hand. However, this also means that employees are intrinsically motivated. They are working because they love what they are doing. Thus, there is high productivity.
Jenny emphasized how Ink Tank would not be where it is right now had she not had “a stellar team who wants it just as much as [she does]”.
Ink Tank, full of devoted members, has strived to promote itself throughout campus. For instance, it sponsored the SASA show. It also attempted word-of-mouth marketing, ranging from social media marketing to the more traditional form where members tell their friends about the company who then tell their friends, and so on. Jenny hopes to put a giant T-shirt on the Rock one day, so that all students at Northwestern can learn about the brand.
To the aspiring entrepreneurs on campus, Jenny says that there will be hardships along the way and that they should all be ready but to not get discouraged.
If you are an organization in need of custom apparel, check out https://www.nuinktank.com/.