Too often a tagline is a cheesy aside to what a business really does, but Print All Over Me (PAOM) has a particularly good one: “Our motto is URL to IRL,” says Jesse Finkelstein, who co-founded PAOM with his sister Meredith. The motto’s good because it’s true—technically, PAOM really is URL to IRL.
The siblings launched the website last December with the goal of turning design into something anybody could do. The premise is simple enough: you upload a pattern or image, select your silhouette (be it a neoprene skirt, a jumpsuit, or a button-down), then your image is printed all over your chosen canvas, sent to you, and (presumably) worn. And if someone decides to buy your design, you get 20 percent of the profit.
The Finkelsteins came to PAOM from separate career paths—Jesse has a background in fashion design and Meredith in computer science—but they both grew up around manufacturing. Their family owns factories in Georgia and New Jersey, where they produce soft home items (like pillows and dog beds), and the siblings spent family vacations in China and India sorting through fabric markets with their parents. This gave them rare insight into the difficulties of going from idea to finished product. Both thought it was unnecessarily complicated, with too much division between the designers and the manufacturer. PAOM rectifies that by being something of a one-stop shop for designers.
After just one year, PAOM has already amassed an impressive list of collaborations with designers like Leta Sobierajski (who also designed this site), NADA, and design blog Sight/Unseen. But almost more impressive is the way its community uses the platform. The website is like a social network where designers flesh out ideas and get insight from fellow PAOM users. Not everything is good—with more than 1 million uploads, that’s impossible—but the best designs tend to rise to the top, thanks to the site’s emphasis on curation.
The next year is going to be big for PAOM. The company is beginning to raise its own funding with hopes to build more features on the website. Meredith says eventually they’d like to offer a way for people to design their own silhouettes using a parameterized tool (think customizing a dress with the click of a button), and they just launched an iPhone app, which will allow users to create designs from their phone. In a lot of ways, PAOM is solving the woes of many a young designer: aside from the creative part, you also need to have a solid grasp on business, marketing, and retail. PAOM is aiming to be the nexus between the creative process and making a real, tangible object. “What we’re saying,” explains Jesse, “is you guys focus on the part that you’re good at, and let us take care of the rest.”