Photo by Peter French

By Teal Thompson

Launching, producing and successfully funding a Kickstarter Project is a journey. We are Mario Guajardo and Teal Thompson and we own The Richter Co., a made-in-the-USA clothing brand and manufacturing company in downtown San Antonio.

(Check out their project’s page here.)

Kickstarter is all or nothing funding. When you launch a Kickstarter Project, you must determine a funding goal, products that will be produced and delivered from the funding received, and a deadline to reach your goal (all of which are non-changeable once you launch). If you fall short of your funding goal, you receive no funding and people do not receive your products.

We decided on Kickstarter since it is one of the most well-known funding platforms for creative projects globally. It’s been featured on NPRCNN, and The New York Times to name a few. We needed to get people involved, aware of our intention and mission for creating a clothing brand and company in San Antonio, instead of Los Angeles, NYC, or Paris. Why San Antonio?

Sewing machine we’re buying from our funds. (Photo by Teal Thompson)

San Antonio is right on the cutting edge of exploding in a great way. Everyone is talking about how we can make this city a more vibrant, dynamic place to live where the urban community is booming. We are right in the center of this action and we feel that we were innovators at the forefront of downtown revitalization and growth.

Were we taking a big risk? Yes! Were we up for it? Yes!

We launched on June 27, 2012 with a funding goal of $15,000. Our rewards for pledging were unisex infinity scarves, women and men’s t-shirts, and men’s modern fit button downs. Our mission was to finish the Richter Co. 2012 Casual Americana Collection and use the funds we received to buy the industrial sewing machines and fabric necessary to complete the collection, in addition to hiring the seamstresses we needed to produce the garments.

In the next 34 days, we spent countless hours pitching our story to media channels, and reaching out to our friends, family and colleagues for support. Every day was a new adventure, seeing who had pledged, discovering that people who knew
nothing about us but had found us on Kickstarter were pledging from around the world: 640 people liked our Kickstarter Project on Facebook and we had more than 9,372 plays on our Kickstarter video.

Mayor Julián Castro was seen modeling one of our Richter Co.button downs in the middle of the campaign. Our Kickstarter Project was featured on Channel 4 News (WOAI), Telemundo, in El Universal, The San Antonio Business Journal, Plaza de
Armas, and Medina Magazine. Zac Harris (Core Continuum Group) and Brooke Harris (Fresh Urban Flowers) threw us a Kickstarter Pledge Party to support the effort. And we ended up throwing ourselves a Kickstarter Pledge Party in the final days to bring us all the way home.

Teal & Mario at their Kickstarter Pledge Party (Photo by Peter French)

On a daily basis, I talked to people who were cheering us on and telling us to keep the faith, and others who were expressing their doubts, worries and fears. Everyday people would ask questions like:

“Can’t you change your funding goal?”

“What will you do if it doesn’t happen?”

“Do you have to complete it in this timeframe?”

And everyday, we would handle our own doubts and go back to committing to being successfully funded. I personally knew that if we were funded, we would give hope and inspiration to others going for a big dream, that it can be done, that you should never give up, and that believing with 100% certainty is the key to success. We didn’t want to reach the goal just for our success, but so that everyone would feel successful.

On Sunday July 29, we were 104% successfully funded with a total of 175 backers and $15,634 in pledges received! Our success is YOUR success and we couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you.

Inside The Richter Co. (Photo by Mario Guajardo)

The scarf and t-shirt fabric has arrived! We are ordering the industrial sewing machines today and we will be hiring seamstresses in the next couple of weeks to start production. You will be seeing people all over San Antonio and beyond proudly wearing their Richter Co. Made in The USA clothes in the next couple of months.

We are excited to bring an industry back to life that was once thriving here: clothing manufacturing. After Levi’s left San Antonio in 1990, it left 1,150 seamstresses without jobs. Fuerza Unida, a group of women seamstresses, banded together when Levi’s left. We will be drawing from their talent pool to create jobs for seamstresses, boosting the
local economy.

Richter Co. located at 616 Broadway (right). Photo Courtesy of Teal Thompson

Mario renovated the building, which was originally a clothing manufacturing company in the 1930’s. With his personal savings invested in the renovation and developing the first line of products, we were at a crossroads for what to do about our second round of funding to take The Richter Co. to the next level. There were many options: private investors, bank loans, government loans, etc. But with all of these options, we wouldn’t be closer to launching our brand to the world. We’d have funding with no exposure.

Everything at The Richter Co. is about expecting the unexpected. When you step into the retail boutique, it feels more like a slice of NYC or Paris, than San Antonio. Launching this type of clothing brand here could be considered out-of-the-box. But we believe in San Antonio and that’s why we’re choosing to start the company here – Mario has a son in first grade here and is committed to leaving him a legacy that he can be proud of.

Even though our Kickstarter Project is over, our doors are now open for business. Please call or email to schedule an appointment to stop by our shop and buy your Richter Co. scarves, t-shirts, and button downs. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Richter Co. lounge area – Made-in-The-USA shirts folded on the shelf. (Photo by Peter French)

Teal Thompson and Mario Guajardo
The Richter Co.
616 Broadway San Antonio, TX 78215
(210) 650-2230
mario@therichterco.com
teal@therichterco.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/therichterco
Twitter: @therichterco

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org