After the Lights is a new web series which examines the post-basketball careers of former Fever players and coaches.
Jessica Davenport is a WBCA All-American. She is a World University Games gold medalist and a WNBA Champion. She can now add entrepreneur to her already impressive resume
After a successful collegiate career at Ohio State University, Davenport was drafted in 2007 and went on to play two seasons with the New York Liberty. The Indiana Fever then picked her up in 2009 where she went on to win a WNBA championship in 2012, alongside Tamika Catchings. After several injuries, Davenport decided to retire and chase another dream, owning her own business. She returned to her hometown of Columbus, Ohio and started Envy My Tee, an online shop specializing in custom printing, graphic t-shirts, and personalized gifts.
Jessica runs Envy My Tee from her home and has spent the past year perfecting her craft. What started as a t-shirt printing business has evolved into much more and shows no signs of slowing down.
“My setup is not that glamourous… but if you have the right equipment you can make a million things.”
When you left the WNBA did you know you wanted to start your own business?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I originally wanted to start an online sneaker store, but it’s extremely hard to get an online contract to sell shoes. And I wasn’t prepared to get a brick and mortar location. That’s not the route I wanted to go. After some research, I learned about customization and that just kind of took over. I love the different things you can do with it, and that’s where my passion has gone now.
Was it harder than you thought to walk away from the game you played for so long?
No. I don’t think it was devastating or anything like that. I always had perspective that not everyone plays until they are 37 or 38. And, although my career got cut a little short, I feel like I packed a lot into those years, and I can’t be devastated about that situation.
Did any of the skills you learned as an athlete help you with starting Envy My Tee?
Everything. I just wanted everything to happen so fast. Then I realized… that’s not the way I learned to play basketball. It was something every day, planting the seeds that will eventually grow and working every day no matter what the results are. That’s what you are doing in practice, working every day to get better. There’s just a lot of parallels that I draw from sports and business. Time management was also a big one!
How difficult was it to get Envy My Tee off the ground?
It was pretty hard. I went to a lot of classes. I probably spent about four or five months, once or twice per week, going to every class that I could go to. After a while, I just began to be like, you’ve got to start something. You can go to a thousand classes, but once you start getting that experience of running into problems… that’s when you really start learning.
What makes your business different?
What makes mine different is, for one, I offer low minimums. That’s a big thing for people. People don’t always want to buy in bulk. They don’t want to buy twenty-four t-shirts. They only want a few for a certain occasion. Also, my customer service. I’m not a big operation, but I do respond to customer questions throughout the day. In the evenings, if I’m just laying on the couch there is no reason for me to say, “I’ll respond at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.” I think the customers like that. If they have questions or things like that, they get responses and answers. And also, I think it’s streamlined.
I don’t offer design services. So people who already have designs, they can come with it, get a quick quote, and then they can decide if they want to work with me or not. And I think that’s an advantage to some people. It’s not a back-and-forth where you’re spending a week with your designer saying, “Can you tweak this?” and “Can you tweak that?”. I want to cater to the people who already have a design in mind. They may not be familiar with what type of t-shirt they want, but they know the design. I’m able to provide them with the best options cost-wise and in a timely fashion.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to open their own business?
Just start it. If you have an idea…go ahead with it. But first do your research, and you have to put yourself out there. It’s a little bit out of my character to get out and network and things like that, but as I’ve gotten more comfortable with my business, I feel a lot more comfortable talking about it. Just go out there and do it… learn on the fly.
I’ve failed a lot of times. But when you fail, you learn. It’s really not something that should be that devastating. If you think something is going to work out and it doesn’t, that’s ok. Now you learned it’s not going to work. You have an opportunity to start again.
Save with Promo Code:
Jessica Davenport just launched an official ETSY shop for Envy My Tee and is offering a special promo code to save 10% towards the purchase of a personalized gift or coffee mug.