An Entrepreneur’s Twist on the Ugly Christmas Sweater

Christmas shirts are the brainchild of James McCarthy, founder of The Christmas Shirt Company, a company that sells Christmas shirts as the cooler alternative to Christmas sweater. McCarthy launched the business in September 2013 and has since sold thousands of Christmas-themed shirts to over 35 countries worldwide from his website

What made you start your business?

I studied architecture and graduated in the middle of the recession. Not the best timing and as if my 26-year-old self-worth couldn’t get any lower, I was bedridden in my parents’ basement for three months in the autumn of 2011 with an old sports injury. I did a lot of thinking (and TV watching) and decided I wanted to do more than work at a job. I wanted to explore different fields, not just rely on one source of income. Circumstance made that an easy choice.

I spent the three months working on business ideas and taught myself how to make a basic website. It was almost Christmas at the time and Christmas sweaters were everywhere. There was obviously a big market for festive clothing, but I wondered why Christmas shirts weren’t available. Most guys wear shirts to work, and socially, but when it comes to the festive season they have to suffer in hot, itchy sweaters? It didn’t make sense.

I put together some designs and ordered my first samples. They weren’t great but it was rewarding seeing something I’d envisaged actually come to be.

It wasn’t until Christmas 2013 that I launched the finished product and the response was overwhelming. People either loved them or hated them, but everyone had an opinion.  I launched the website in September of that year and have since sold 1000s of Christmas-themed shirts to over 35 countries worldwide from my website

What are the key factors that have helped your store be successful?

Solving a problem and Customer satisfaction. Our product is totally new and it actually solves the problem of overheating when trying to enjoy yourself in a stuffy bar or restaurant. Christmas sweater parties are the norm these days but so often people end up having to take off their sweaters just to cool down–they’re impractical. Christmas shirts on the other hand are 100 percent cotton, you can wear them open or buttoned-up, with sleeves rolled down or rolled up, and I’ve even seen ladies fashion them into dresses. They’re a much more versatile product, not to mention cheaper.

What about competition?

People often ask me: “what will you do when other people start selling Christmas shirts?” I know my product will be replicated, but I’m not worried. I concentrate on the products and my customers. Once I stay passionate about what I do – making the best Christmas shirts available – and committed to superior customer experience, I know I’ll continue to satisfy my customers and build my business.

Any closing remarks?

I’m really looking forward to Christmas 2014 – the sales have already started flying in. We offer worldwide free shipping on all orders.

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