Social media page 828isgreat, currently found on Instagram, was created by Brennan Reichmann and Van Arthur. Both are juniors at Asheville High. In an email to Xpress, they explained that "the basic concept is to showcase the beauty of the Asheville and neighboring areas outdoors." But there's more to the plan than an impressive photo gallery. Using images uploaded via the 828isgreat hashtage, Reichmann and Arthur plan to print a line of Western North Carolina-themed t-shirts. "All credit is given to the original photographer, and we would request explicit permission from all users to print their images on the shirts," they say. Printing begins when the Instagram page reaches 1,000 followers — at press time that number was 927.
While Reichmann and Arthur are working on the concept in their free time from classes, they do have some expert help: Reichmann's mother, Carmen Benitez, is the founder and president of social media marketing company Fetch+. A friend of hers, a New Zealand-based apparel designer, has made himself available to the intrepid duo for consultation and advice. But Reichmann and Arthur are also inspired by classmates and social media as a means of both connecting and commerce. "We know that kids like us love social media," says Arthur. "It's like a second language, and when you mix that with lifestyle products, a special thing happens. It's like creating a new way of life that people can tap into."
Here, Reichmann and Arthur talk more about their unique business model:
Mountain Xpress: Was there an initial idea/brainstorm/inspiration that launched 828isgreat?
Van Arthur: Our inspiration for creating this community was actually from our high school. We noticed that a lot of our friends were posting these amazing pictures and it seemed to be a kind of competition. Who could take the best picture of some of the many places in Asheville that we're all fond of. We knew all of Asheville would love to join the game. The first people who actually used the hash tag were Jack Burke and Charlie Duft.
Why use Instagram as opposed to Facebook, Flikr, etc?
Arthur: We chose Instagram for many reasons. Mainly because we noticed ourselves that it is an amazingly creative outlet and very simple to use. We also saw large communities on Instagram, and we decided to create something like that where local Ashevilleans could post the pictures they're most proud of, and display them to a community that wouldn't normally get to see these images.
Photo by Mitch Bearden, @kayakmb
Instagram photos look cool online but aren't very high resolution. How are you getting the image quality you'd need for print reproduction?
Arthur: We pick the best, most active photographers and inquire about the original image which is usually large enough resolution to be used for projects.
What t-shirt printing company will you work with, or will you print the shirts yourselves?
Arthur: We are very locally focused so we 're to keep everything we do in the community. We are going to use MIA printing because of their reputation and we want Bring but to support local.
How much will the shirts sell for, and how will you market them?
Brennan Reichmann: We plan on selling the shirts around $20-$25. Not too expensive. We don't want anyone to not be able to wear our clothing. We plan on doing a couple different releases from our Instagram and based on how the community responds, we might try to get some in local shops so people who don't know about the Instagram page can wear our clothing. (Brennan)
Will you pay 828isgreat contributors for their work if you chose to use it?
Reichmann: Of course. Anyone we think should help us produce a shirt will be paid for the use of their image and will get to choose a free shirt from our collection.
How are you able to launch this business while still attending high school?
Reichmann: We like to see it as a challenge, but if it gets too overwhelming, we might have to ask a friend to help us even out the workload. Right now, we have enough time to focus on school and business.
There's also a community service aspect of the project. Can you explain what that is?
Arthur: Basically, our vision is to create a community of Ashevilleans who love the mountains they live in and would love nothing but to share that with anyone who's interested. Our biggest inspiration from the Instagram page is when people talk about their favorite spots and actually make plans with people right on the page. That's the kind of stuff we just love seeing. These mountains are so beautiful, we just have to share them with the whole world.
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