CustomInk buys a celebrity social commerce platform

February 8, 2016 10:09 AM

CustomInk, a web-only custom apparel and accessories designer and retailer has acquired Represent, a social commerce startup that helps actors, athletes, musicians and other popular figures create and sell limited-run T-shirts and merchandise to their fans and followers.

The companies did not reveal the purchase price, but a source familiar with the terms says the deal reached Thursday was for $100 million.

Represent, based in Los Angeles, has helped direct various celebrity-backed social media fundraising campaigns and for-profit ventures, and its investors include actors Ashton Kutcher and James Franco and professional basketball player Kobe Bryant.

“Selling custom apparel with Represent strengthens fan communities, builds personal brands, raises awareness for important causes and generates strong revenues,” says Marc Katz, co-founder and CEO of CustomInk.

For example, Ronda Rousey, former Ultimate Fighting Championship women’s bantamweight champion, ran a Represent campaign in August to raise money for Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services. More than 57,000 fans bought Rousey’s DNB (“don’t be a do-nothing b----”) shirt, grossing more than $2.3 million, according to Represent.

Represent says it works with clients to design a campaign, then handles day-to-day management, printing and fulfillment, while the client, what Represent calls the “influencer,” can share the campaign with supporters via social media and other channels. While the campaign is running, Represent’s marketing team can provide additional support through search marketing and banner ads designed to increase the campaign’s visibility and reach.

The companies will integrate their supply chains and other aspects of their operations and technology, CustomInk says, but Represent will continue to operate as a separate brand from its offices in Los Angeles and Prague.

CustomInk, No. 143 in the Internet Retailer 2015 Top 500 Guide, did $225 million in sales in 2014, up 31% from the previous year.

In addition to Represent, CustomInk says it is developing two new businesses designed to build online communities and raise funds. Based in Boston, Booster is a fundraising platform designed to help individuals and organizations raise money and awareness by selling custom T-shirts to support charities, personal causes or other “positive” purposes. Chicago-based Pear is a sponsorship platform that connects groups with national and local brands to fund their custom shirts and other group needs.

CustomInk investors include Revolution Growth and SWaN & Legend Venture Partners.




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