Melbourne friends earn $13m from meme

The friends were struggling to generate money – then a Daniel Andrews meme made them millionaires.

Two friends from Melbourne have managed to raise $13 million in one year largely thanks to a very popular meme about their prime minister, Daniel Andrews.

Ace Reunis and Marcus Siegel, 30 and 49 respectively, launched their t-shirt business called Threadheads four years ago but admit it got off to a “slow start”.

It wasn’t until the Covid-19 pandemic hit Australian shores in March 2020 that things took off.

As bored Melburnians endured a 112-day lockdown, they turned to online shopping to pass the time – and Threadheads were more than happy to oblige.

According to co-founder Ace Reunis, revenues were “literally zero”, but a Daniel Andrews T-shirt changed their fortunes after becoming a bestseller.

The Victorian Prime Minister has now chastised Victorians at a press conference in 2020 for ‘riding on beers’ with their friends during the first extended lockdown.

The t-shirt company wasted no time in designing its own garment with these four iconic words etched into the fabric.

“We were adding a lot of fun to people’s lives in what was a dark time,” Mr Reunis told news.com.au.

Along with a number of other humorous designs, the company started receiving hundreds of orders a day and grew from obscurity into millions.

Fast forward to two years later and the buddies are on track to collect $13.2 million in revenue for fiscal year 2022.

Mr Siegel and his wife Sabrina started Threadheads in 2018, with everyone telling them they were crazy to leave their stable jobs to strike out on their own.

The couple called on Mr. Reunis for his marketing skills and the three of them raised $30,000.

To save money, they decided to print on demand, meaning they only printed the exact number of t-shirts that customers ordered.

“We had two outdated printers,” Mr. Siegel said.

“One of them was getting me down on a daily basis. We had techs about every two weeks trying to fix them.”

They set up shop in a former massage parlor at Moorabbin station and relied on foot traffic to keep their business afloat.

The sales were so unusual at first that they would be delighted if they made several purchases in one day.

“At the start of 2019, if we had a day when we were selling five shirts, we would be popping champagne,” Mr Reunis said.

Things accelerated when a “random guy” by the name of Fulvio Obregon, originally from Colombia and working as a cleaner in Melbourne, phoned in with custom designs he had drawn himself and wanted to print.

Mr Reunis described Obregon as “a brilliant fucking brilliant illustrator” and said the founders “immediately offered him a job”.

“All of a sudden the ideas that we had previously started to come to fruition. We called it the holy trinity of Threadhead,” Mr Siegel added.

Mr. Siegel came up with the ideas while Mr. Obregon designed them, and then Mr. Reunis brought them to market.

At Christmas 2019, the company finally seemed to have turned a corner – and just three months later, the world was plunged into isolation.

“Covid hit and suddenly the demand in our business skyrocketed,” Mr Reunis said.

“We suddenly realized that our customers were on the internet” and not just around Moorabbin station, he added.

In 2020, they almost hit $1 million in revenue, and the following year they were over $4 million.

“During this lockdown period, I was doing 100 hours a week, week after week [because] there was nothing else to do, we only had business.

Threadheads now has two production centers, one in Melbourne and the other in Prague, and has 27 employees.

Although Australians are their biggest fans, the UK is a close second and they have also shipped products to 40 countries in total.

Last year they sold 280,000 T-shirts last year. “That’s a lot of T-shirts,” Mr Reunis admitted.

They have come a long way from selling five products a day; now they sell around 350-400 a day during quiet times, and that doubles around Christmas.

Threadheads launched a equity crowdfunding campaign on Birchal with the intention of using the additional funds to open a third production center in the United States.

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