Teespring, the custom apparel startup backed by Andreessen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures and others, has laid off 70 employees from its Providence, Rhode Island-based location, TechCrunch learned and Teespring confirms. The move, which impacts those in customer service, selling services and select graphic design positions, represents Teespring’s continued withdrawal from the region where it first got off the ground.
The company is characterizing the elimination of Providence-based positions as more of a re-organization of departments, rather than a layoff, however. The company today has around 300 employees in Providence, Kentucky and London, and following the layoffs, the plan is to again reach that number.
Notes a company spokesperson:
“We’d like to express our thanks and appreciation to the talented team members in Rhode Island who helped Teespring get to where it is today. Restructuring our Providence office was a difficult decision. However, we believe that our new team structure – reflecting expansion in our San Francisco and Kentucky locations – enables us to better serve our customers and organize Teespring for our next phase of growth.”
With the re-organization, the biggest change involves moving customer service to Teespring’s newer production facility in Kentucky. The company built up the facility last year, then launched in early 2015. We understand that the decision to co-locate customer service there instead of Providence was because it just made more sense, in the company’s view, to have customer service and production side by side. If shoppers had questions about where their order was, or had an issue with an order, it’s easier for customer service to be near production.
Meanwhile, the decision to move seller services to San Francisco had a lot to do with the hiring of Teespring’s new Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer Robert Chatwani, a former eBay exec, who’s also based in San Francisco. His position is focused on accelerating the growth and impact of Teespring’s seller community, which is why this team is now being co-located with other departments, including marketing, business development and product.
And while there were some graphic design positions eliminated in Providence, others in that role continue to be based there. Teespring, for now at least, will continue to have a core team in Providence where HR support and its Trust & Safety departments also operate.
However, the company now considers itself based in San Francisco – something that’s been a slow shift following Teespring’s participation in the Y Combinator Winter 2013 class.
Originally inspired by an idea from Brown University grads Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton, Teespring allows users to design custom tees and other apparel using a simple online tool. They can then use Teespring’s platform to collect pre-orders for the items they’re selling. When their campaign wraps, Teespring handles printing the shirts, shipping directly to the buyers, and the shirts’ creators get to keep the profits from their sales. (The company’s business model involves taking a flat margin from its products, which customers can sell at whatever price point they choose.)
Teespring helped put Providence’s startup community on the map, but locals had noticed for some time that much of the hiring had transitioned out of the area to San Francisco and elsewhere, and many core roles were shifted to the West Coast in recent months.