Issue: March/April 2012
Cleveland’s Fresh Brewed Tees lands deal with NFLPA.
It’s not easy for a tiny apparel company to strike a deal with the NFL Players Association, but Fresh Brewed Tees made the connection earlier this year.
CEO Tony Madalone took advantage of a service from Playmark, a startup that streamlines the traditionally complicated process of getting licensed by the NFLPA. Playmark helps companies obtain licensing for both digital (royalty rates of 10 to 30 percent) and physical products (royalty rates of 9 to 13 percent). But it also helped that Fresh Brewed Tees had already worked with Cleveland Browns players such as Joe Haden and T.J. Ward.
“It would have been tough to get the license without having any track record of working with players,” says Madalone, who released a “Tebow Time” T-shirt in January to coincide with the Denver Broncos’ playoff run.
Here’s what else he learned along the way.
Make the right call.
“It’s not always easy to get in touch with an organization like the NFLPA,” Madalone says. But because he had an existing relationship with an NFL agent, he was able to find the person he needed to reach much faster.
Be prepared to change.
Fresh Brewed Tees had to get rid of several shirts in order to comply with the NFL’s requirement that only one team color be used on any merchandise licensed through the NFLPA. It wasn’t ideal, but Madalone says the potential benefit from the licensing deal was worth it.
Show you’re credible.
Existing relationships can validate your business. “The credibility that comes with being introduced through a player’s agent let us stand out from the crowd,” Madalone says.
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