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Influx interview- jacob dehart- threadless.com and skinny corp

March 16, 2006

Threadless.com is one of the pioneers of the open source creative revolution. However, it is only one of the corporate concerns of skinnyCorp that is using the web to do extraordinary things. Wired Magazine last year described the company as follows:

Started in 2000 by Chicago Web designers Jake Nickell, 24, and Jacob DeHart, 23, Threadless pulled in $1.6 million in revenue last year. Now the pair are extending the business model: Hit
to vote nakedandAngry.com on user-submitted fabric patterns for items like neckties and polos. Surf over to OMGClothing.com to choose your favorite open source T-shirt slogans. Or go to 15megsofame.com to weigh in on MP3s from aspiring musicians; top vote-getters receive cash, airtime on XM Radio, and the chance to perform live at a Chicago venue.

Influx recently got a chance to interview Jacob and talk about himself and his business ventures.

could you give us a little background on yourself?

Hey there! My name is Jacob Gordon DeHart. I was born and raised in Des Plaines, which is a suburb of Chicago. Growing up I’ve always had a technical mind, I loved math and science in school … but I was always had an artistic side too. After high school I went to Purdue for engineering. While at college I spent my days and nights on the Internet instead of going to class. I wasn’t very interested in engineering, but I was very interested in the design and development of websites. I met Jake a few months into school and Jake helped me out a lot learning how to code. We started Threadless and skinnyCorp while I was away at school, and after my year was up I left college to move back home to work really work on the business with Jake.

what exactly is skinnyCorp?

SkinnyCorp is an S Corporation owned by myself and my partner Jake. SkinnyCorp is the parent company to most of our projects like Threadless, Extratasty, Naked and Angry and OMGClothing. We also have a side project called 15megsoffame which is an LLC.

what’s the idea behind the group?

SkinnyCorp is our Idea Factory. Jake and I, along with our creative director Jeffrey, are always coming up with ideas. SkinnyCorp is in the business of making businesses.

how has Threadless evolved and where do you think it is heading? (some stats would be cool?)

Threadless grows about 4.5 times as big as it was the previous year. We never really expected that to happen, Threadless was always a part time hobby that we did for fun. About 2 years ago things really started to take off and we realized that it could get really big. The main idea behind has always remained, create an on-going design competition to benefit the artist.

what do you feel about consumer, rather than designer creativity- can anyone be a designer?

I definitely think people can have creative ideas and not be a designer, that?s part of the reason why we created omgclothing. Omgclothing is similar to Threadless but instead of artists submitting designs anyone can submit a slogan that gets rated by the public. We then ask artists to create a design based on the winning slogans.

what companies out there do you admire for whatever reason?

I love the whole “Web 2.0″ craze, I think its great that people are focusing on innovative ideas and making sites more usable. I’m a huge fan of Flickrand I think del.icio.us is great.

is there anything else that you would like to tell our readers?

I don’t think so! Thanks for the interview; if anyone has any questions they can feel free to email us! Or check out our new company blog at tehblog.com

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