Ok, i’m in two minds on how to approach writing about Springleap. On one hand I’m really excited that someone has launched a website like this for South Africa. On the other it is basically Threadless for locals – and i’m a bit bored of carbon copies of international web business ideas. Also, and correct me if i’m wrong here, but a R2 royalty doesn’t sound like alot for the designer if the t-shirt costs R183?

The concept is that graphic artists etc submit T-shirt designs and the most popular ones get made and sold. As a business they could be onto a winner as Threadless is ridiculously popular on a global scale.I’m going to put my cynicism aside and come down on the side that this is a good thing as what really matters is the designs are local (and mostly rather good) and the site is slickly put together. They also don’t hide that Threadless was the inspiration (see release below) so that’s kind of fair enough.

What i’ll be interested in seeing is if it develops along its own creative path or just stays content to shadow Threadless.

This is their press release:

Design meets online

Launched on 20 February 2008, Springleap is SA’s newest addition to groundbreaking Internet companies taking the online community by storm. Loosely categorized as a social media come online retail outlet, Springleap invites visitors to the site to submit their T-shirt designs and win if their design is voted for by the burgeoning Springleap community.

Created by successful serial entrepreneurs Eric Edelstein and Eran Eyal, co-owners of eSquared Fashion, Springleap is South Africa’s new and improved answer to Threadless.

Proudly Mzansi, Springleap aims to uplift and empower South Africans from the ground up. “We offer artists, designers and people with something to say the opportunity to be publicly showcased. Call us a gallery without walls if you like, but what better way to get known than to have your designs emblazoned on a t-shirt?” says Eran Eyal.

Once you’ve joined the Springleap community, you can create your own profile; upload, vote and list your favourite designs; comment and respond to what others are saying about the latest entries or celebrity duals and update your status – similar to Twitter and Facebook.

Each month a winner is chosen based on the highest average community rated score for a design. The winner, plus 19 runners up, will see his/her design printed on high quality slim cut t-shirts that can be ordered via Springleap.com or bought at one of Springleap’s exclusive partners eSquared in Durban and Cape Town or at Big Blue in Rosebank, Irene and Kalkbay for the first 30 days. Thereafter the t-shirts will be available via local resellers who, once approved, will be able to log into Springleap.com and order the desired number of t-shirts they require based on the demand from their target market.

Says Eric Edelstein: “For us empowering designers is fundamental to Springleap’s ongoing success. For each t-shirt we print the winning designer will receive a R2 royalty and the runners-up a R1 royalty. This also applies to all reprints of t-shirts which, depending on fan demand, could earn designers some unexpected yet deserved income. Having your art showcased in a public domain and getting paid for it to boot, is what is so exciting about this venture.”

With some sought after prizes and unavoidable fame up for grabs, Springleap really is going all out to showcase its winners. With each Springleap t-shirt you buy you receive a postcard featuring the design plus the designer’s bio, a bookmark showcasing all the other designs of the month – in case you decide to buy another T-shirt for your collection – and your t-shirt, featuring the designer’s name on the back. And if you’re truly a fan, you will most likely want to order a limited edition poster featuring your favourite winning design.

T-shirts will cost R183 inc. VAT and courier costs. Anyone can submit a design or join the community and best of all, it’s free!

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