The Importance of Keeping It SimpleSeptember 3, 2020
Day By Day
“March was a stressful time,” says Sloan Coleman, Co-Owner and Director of Business Development at Tiny Little Monster in St. Louis. It’s a sentiment that many people across the country and around the world can relate to.
For Sloan and her business partner Jenny, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic was one of the most stressful periods they’ve ever experienced as owners. While Tiny Little Monster is no stranger to fundraising, they’re used to having weeks or months to develop a strategy and build a campaign. “This is not the kind of pivot you can make quickly,” she relates. “We were taking it day by day.”
When a slow week turned into delayed events and canceled orders, they leaned into their specialty to create a campaign that could help the local community and develop a structure that would go on to have a life of its own.
A Print Shop for the People
Tiny Little Monster was founded in 2011, when what was originally a portfolio website for Jenny’s artwork turned into an online print shop. When asked about the name, Sloan’s answer is simple: “We just thought it was a cool name. It sets us apart from other print shops.”
Setting themselves apart is just how Tiny Little Monster does business. They are proudly female-owned and specialize in fundraising for socially-progressive non-profit organizations. Schools are often drawn to them simply because of the name. “We’re a print shop for the people,” says Sloan, and nothing proves that more convincingly than their Here for Good campaign.
Here for Good
With their usual time for planning and strategizing cut from weeks to days by the pandemic, Sloan opted for simplicity. “We already knew how to do web store fundraisers, “she recalls. “And I initially thought we should do a separate web store for each business.” With the number of local businesses taking part, that quickly became unsustainable.
“What if we just kept it simple and did one massive fundraiser?” she remembers asking herself. From there, Sloan created a single online storefront as a central place for all the St. Louis businesses who wanted to take part and the Here for Good campaign quickly took shape.
By limiting the sometimes-daunting set of options available when starting a web store, they kept it simple for the businesses who participated. “We approached each business with a question: ‘Do you want this store? We’ll send you $10 for every shirt sold.’ It’s hard to say no to that,” recalls Sloan. It’s a strategy that worked – over 250 businesses took part in Here for Good before it ran its course.
This kept it simple for customers too. Those who wanted to show their support for local St. Louis businesses had a one-stop shop where they could choose the pieces they wanted. How the proceeds broke down was also simple – each shirt was $20, with half going to Tiny Little Monster as the printer and the other half going to the featured business.
The success of the campaign speaks for itself. Their humble initial goal of $5,000 was quickly surpassed and they eventually got very close to their stretch goal of $100,000. In the end, over $89,000 was sent to struggling St. Louis businesses from March through June, when it was needed most.
Too Old and Too New
Sloan says that Here for Good was a labor of love. As positive as the effect was locally, she was also happy to see others pick up on what she was doing and keep it going in their communities. To date, more than 100 shops have run similar campaigns based on the same framework, including Here for Good 605 and Print It Forward.
“I started sharing the concept to get other print shops on board and let them run with it,” she recalls. “It was amazing to see the influence it had. I’ve developed friendships with people from other shops across the country and it has opened the doors for collaboration in the future.”
For now, Here for Good has run its course and Sloan is working on getting perspective on it. “It’s both too old and too new,” she says. “It would be cool to do something like this every March…but maybe it’s better to just do it once.”
For Sloan and Tiny Little Monster, this was one fundraising campaign with a big influence. Whatever the future holds, the “print shop for the people” will continue finding new ways to support fundraisers and local organizations. After all, they’re here for good.