Created by self-proclaimed serial entrepreneurs Eric Edelstein and Eran Eyal, co-owners of eSquared Fashion, www.springleap.com has ambitious plans to turn around the ailing textile industry in South Africa. Launched on 20 February 2008, the site invites visitors to submit their t-shirt designs to the site and win if their design is voted for by the burgeoning Springleap community.
On 1 April 2008, when voting was expected to start on the website, Edelstein posted a message on his personal blog, EricEdelstein.com, passionately stating that the site had shut down.
“I thought that people would realise that it was an April Fools Day joke,” Edelstein told Bizcommunity.com, “as I linked from my blog post to a page on the Springleap website wishing everyone a Happy April Fool's Day.
"What I didn't expect is that most people speed-read websites, and didn't get to the part about the joke. I spent the whole of yesterday replying to the hundreds of emails, Skype and Twitter messages, and phone calls I got from concerned people to let them know it was an April Fool's joke.”
Proudly Mzansi, Springleap aims to uplift and empower South Africans from the ground up. "We offer artists, designers and people with something to say the opportunity to be publicly showcased. Call us a gallery without walls if you like, but what better way to get known than to have your designs emblazoned on a t-shirt?" says Eyal.
Signing up to the community is free, and members can create profiles and update their status, upload, vote and list favourite designs, comment and respond to what others are saying about the latest entries or celebrity duals – similar to Twitter and Facebook.
Each month a winner is chosen based on the highest average community rated score for a design. The winner and 19 runners up will see their designs printed on high quality slim cut t-shirts with their name on the back. T-shirts can be ordered via Springleap.com for R183 including VAT, or bought at one of the site's exclusive partners, eSquared in Durban and Cape Town or at Big Blue in Rosebank, Irene and Kalkbay for the first 30 days.
Thereafter, the t-shirts will be available via local resellers who, once approved, will be able to log onto the site and order the desired number of t-shirts they require based on the demand from their target market.
Says Edelstein, "For us, empowering designers is fundamental to Springleap's ongoing success. For each t-shirt we print, the winning designer will receive a R2 royalty and the runners-up a R1 royalty. This also applies to all reprints of t-shirts, which, depending on fan demand, could earn designers some unexpected yet deserved income. Having your art showcased in a public domain and getting paid for it to boot, is what is so exciting about this venture."
With each t-shirt bought, the buyer also receives a postcard featuring the design plus the designer's bio, and a bookmark showcasing all the other designs of the month. True fans can also order a limited edition poster featuring their favourite winning design.
When asked how the first day of voting turned out, Eyal enthuses, “Better than our wildest dreams! There is massive untapped talent, and now it's being appreciated. Thousands of votes have already been submitted, and nearly every t-shirt design has turned into a conversation. I just hope my favourite t-shirt gets printed!”