After seeing the innertee.net site I was pretty impressed. Then I heard that they are up for an award at SXSW and I got really impressed. The idea is really cool and the implementation looks attractive and very custom. I got a chance to speak with Miles Sims one of the cofounders of the site.
innerTee Company, Community, Site
First and foremost the site is an artist community. The site provides the artists a way to share and be creative in a new format. The format that they are currently using is tee shirts and remixes of tee shirt designs. Artists contribute artwork (elements) which then must be approved before they are available to the general public. This keeps the quality high. Visitors of the site can combine into mixes of multiple elements to create a custom and pleasant design. It's basically an "open source" approach to tee shirt design.
innerTee and Drupal
The ideas for the site really launched about a year ago. That explains why, when you check out their blog why it's written in wordpress. A year ago that made the most sense. Once they had a blog up they started looking for technologies to make an artist community site with an ecommerce twist and - no surprise here - they found Drupal. They started with no outsider funding and still don't have any, so building from scratch seemed daunting. According to Miles, "Drupal gave them a leg up in development of a full site."
Today they have lots of great interactive features common to community sites: rss feeds, blogs, user profile pages, directories, and they are about to unleash a voting system to help separate the best tee shirt designs from the mediocre. One interesting feature is that they provide tee shirt embedding code similar to youtube which people can insert into their blog to show off the shirt that they've designed. For artists this helps them get more sales (and more money) for their designs. Currently pricing of artistic elements is a manual process though the ability to set your own prices will obviously be a feature they add in the near future.
One innovative part of their site is that while they sell shirts, the actual products are created by each individual user. This is very similar to what the folks at GoodStorm are doing, but it takes it to a new level by letting the consumer design the shirt rather than the "shop owner". That was the biggest "pain point" for them and probably with good reason: ecommerce in Drupal is not a core function even if it is a major focus and major working group. Of course as time goes by ecommerce gets better and better and these ideas will become easier to implement.
innerTee and SXSW (South By South West)
A little while ago they were approached and recommended to apply for an award under "Business: For Profit". Now the SXSW festival is upon us and they are a finalist for a reward and are also qualified for the people's choice award. This is a pretty exciting deal both for these guys to be in the running against such high profile design firms and of course since SXSW is a great place to get more exposure for Drupal.
So, congrats to you guys for getting so far in this award process and good luck!