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Threadless: The Do-First Work Ethic

About this talk

Jeffrey Kalmikoff and Jake Nickell, the masterminds behind the hugely successful, crowd-sourced t-shirt design website Threadless, chart their changing working styles and mindsets throughout eight years of partnership. Their “Do-First Work Ethic” encompasses virtues like staying scrappy, being 100% reactive to your community, embracing a DIY approach, learning from failure, and always (always) taking the first step.

Jake Nickell and Jeffrey Kalmikoff, Co-founders, Threadless

About Jake Nickell: Jake Nickell is a young, entrepreneurial mad man that programs community websites non-stop. He is the founder and CSO of skinnyCorp and, along with countless other side projects. Jake dreamed up the Threadless concept in 2000 after winning a t-shirt design contest on a short-lived online design forum. The idea of sharing designs and opening them up for fellow artists’ critiques appealed to him; he thought Threadless would be a way to give back to the community by creating actual goods out of the submitted designs.

About Jeffrey Kalmikoff: Jeffrey Kalmikoff is a partner and chief creative officer for the Chicago-based, community-business-centric skinnyCorp, overseeing design and strategy for their numerous community-based web projects. These projects range in scale from Threadless, a multi-million dollar t-shirt business selling more than 100,000 shirts per month, to YayHooray, an invite-only, just-for-fun design and technology community. Jeffrey’s work has been published numerous times, and he has spoken all over the world from MIT to the University of Copenhagen to CNN and NPR.
Comments (7)

    I love this company. Inspiration!
    Check this
    My hometown Providence 🙂

  • N Sheriff

    haha, i’ve got both tees they are wearing!!

  • Mike

    Wow! They grew by each peeling off parts of their responsibilities to new staff members. This stuff’s revolutionary! Hat’s off to these guys for building a business but get off the lecture circuit.

  • Dave

    I was super bored during this and that rarely happens on this website. Its interesting how their company developed but neither one had good sense of how to package and convey the lessons they learned.

  • LadyUmbrella

    Very interesting to hear first hand how the company evolved but still retained the core ethics – something to aspire to…

  • David Matias

    These people say “kind of”, “you know”, and “like” too much.

  • Martin Cronje


  • Doug

    This is a comedy bit with Eugene Levy and David Spade…

  • guest

    What kind of speakers are these? The worst advices I’ve heard…

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