SF Made is an incredible organization that helps build San Francisco business and small business community here in San Francisco.
Today they feature Animal Instincts with a interview and blog post here.
Here's a copy of the interview but follow link above to see full article.
Jamai, what’s your story, and how did you get to where you are today?
I’ve been doing art and drawing my whole life. When I was a teenager, I silk screened shirts in my high school art class to sell out of my backpack in my hometown of Fairfax [California]. At one point I even tried to buy the silk screening equipment from my art teacher.
I always had a drive to sell my art somehow. I went through a phase of doing a lot of graffiti, getting into trouble as a kid, until it became clear to me that I needed to focus on my art with t-shirt designs and stay out of trouble.
In 2005, when I was 18, I moved to San Francisco, trying to tap into the art scene. I did some commissioned drawings and cafe shows, but nothing really clicked. I started to notice local gift boutiques that carried local designers
That’s when you started Animal Instincts?
A little later. I officially started Animal Instincts in 2008, when I was working at my uncle’s restaurant to pay my bills. I would hustle my t-shirts on the side. Wearing my designs while I waited tables, I could see if they got a good response from customers. People could also find me selling my designs out of an old beat up suitcase at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass or at the Divisadero Art Walk.
At the same time, I met another local designer, Nate of New Skool. He took me in as an intern while I learned the ropes to get my own brand off the ground. Two years later, I went full time with Animal Instincts.
What was your strategy to grow your business?
My business really grew when I started doing more events on the weekends. Being in the Bay Area you can really do as many events as you can handle. In 2015, I started doing multiple shows in one day which really helped grow sales.
Over the past years the booth fees have increased so I’ve been focusing more on other outlets like my brick and mortar, wholesale and online sales. My shop has been a great addition because I use it as an office to fulfill online and wholesale orders as well as being open for business Monday-Friday. This schedule also allows me the option to still do shows on the weekends. I currently have one multi-talented and hardworking employee but hope to continue growing and hire more in the future!
Who are your main customers, and what’s your best-selling design?
My main customers are young people, 30-40 years old, with families, living in San Francisco, wanting something to represent their love for the city. Although I’m known for my dinosaur crossing the Golden Gate Bridge design, I do a lot of designs showing my love for San Francisco.
Any fun facts?
My designs have been spotted on TV shows such as the Big Bang Theory and worn by Slash from Guns and Roses!
What’s one of the latest products you’re most proud of?
My latest design is the Hidden Bridge Pocket Tee. The shirt is sewn right here in SF, then sent to my silk screener to apply my graphics. Afterwards, it goes back to the cut and sew, to attach the pocket! This makes for a more unique style tee shirt and also very functional if you need somewhere to keep your sunnies when on the move.