Interview: D6 Merchandise

by Deanna Chapman

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with D6 Merchandise, it’s a Philadelphia based merchandise company that works with bands and brands in the local scene. The company is run solely by Lauren Altman and she was kind enough to answer some questions about the company. You can check out the site here and read the interview below!

Where did the idea for a merchandise company come from?
My dad spent twenty years in the promotional marketing industry (his companies would supply clients with promotional items, such as pens, t-shirts, hats, etc.). As I became more interested in the music industry, I saw that the resources I had fit the need that all artists need merchandise. In 10th grade, I started emailing bands that I would find on PureVolume to see if they needed merchandise. Nothing ever came of my solicitations until I got to college and started meeting people who were in bands.

How did you come up with the name D6?
The name for D6 comes from a very long and complicated inside joke with my friends from high school. I won’t get too much into the details, but basically, that’s what we called our group of friends: D6. A few weeks after we named ourselves that, I knew that I had to give a name to this merchandise company idea, so to honor my friends, I called it D6 Merchandise.

Do you have plans to branch out from the local Philly scene and work with brands and bands from other areas?
That’s a tough question. It’s one that I think about a lot. On one hand, it’s nice to know everyone that I work with and I can have a strong sense of community with them. On the other hand, every company wants and needs to expand, and I don’t want to limit myself. I currently work with a few out-of-town bands, such as Cloud District from New York, but other than that, it’s pretty hard to branch into other areas. It seems like bands in every city can either use Customink, or know a local guy who does merchandise. So at the end of the day, I like sticking to what I know, which is the Philly basement scene.

How do you go about choosing who you will work with and if their merch idea is viable?
I will work with anyone who reaches out to me to ask for a quote. I feel that my prices are pretty competitive with other suppliers, and that’s how I continue to grow my portfolio of clients. Although most artists need t-shirts, I try to accommodate every merchandise request as best as I can. For example, Kelley Plante recently came to me and told me that she didn’t see herself as being a t-shirt type of artist. So I listened to all of her ideas, and we worked together, and she has some really cool merchandise designed by Julia Jackson coming out soon.

You have already worked with a ton of clients, how do you balance out the company with your band, Plainview, and being at school?
It’s pretty hard balancing a company, school, being in a very active band, and I just recently started interning at Ruba Club Studios in Northern Liberties. Sometimes I’ll be so caught up in school and work, and I’ll realize that it’s been a week since I replied to someone’s email about pricing. To balance it all I’ve been using the application Evernote to organize everything that I’m working on. I have a folder just for D6 Merchandise, and I have a separate note for each artist that I constantly update with pricing, artwork, and the status of the order. It helps me keep things running quickly and smoothly.

Do you order all of your merch from one place or does it vary based on what the merch is?
I order the merchandise from a variety of different places depending on what the item is. T-shirts are the most common item that I make, however, and I use a factory in North Wales called Stitch Graphics to print the shirts. They are such nice people, and they’re great at what they do.

Where do you think D6 will be a year from now?
A year from now, I think D6 will have a much broader client-base. Ideally, I will still maintain my close connection with all the artists I work with and I won’t lose the sense of community I have with them. I think a year from now, D6 will still be the same as it is today, but it will be more organized and streamlined. Eventually, I’d like to bring on a partner to split up the some of the work. In the year to come, I have a bunch of cool ideas up my sleeve, and I’m excited to get them started!

What’s been the main thing you’ve enjoyed about having started D6? What has the overall experience been like?
What I enjoy the most is the opportunity to work with a wide range of people. I really enjoy working with people and being able to help them find a solution to a problem. And I like being able to give back to the people I work with, which is why I try to promote their shows, tours, and music on my Facebook page and website. The overall experience has been a lot of fun! I love that I get to work with bands that I really love and respect. It’s been a blast, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me.

Any last words about the company?
I just want to give a few shout-outs and thank yous to the following people for all of their help, creativity, and loyalty to D6 Merchandise: Doug Chesnulovitch, Meghan McGovern, Julia Jackson, Richie Straub, Tom Coyle, Deanna Chapman, my band Plainview, all of the bands and companies that I have worked with, and everyone else who has supported this company from the beginning. I wouldn’t be here without all of you, so thank you.