Raygun’s Secret to Product Management Success

Tracking hundreds of product releases is no easy task — how one apparel & design company is winning in a big way


Kitschy is as kitschy does. Whether its an ironic t-shirt, child’s bib or even a temporary tattoo, people love a good, dry as a desert joke to brighten up their everyday or give as gifts.

One company has jumped on this kitsch niche market and is finding that hyper-local laughs sell, and sell pretty big — at least in Iowa.

The employees at Raygunsite.com make fun of their home state quite openly on their website:

They say in order to survive this somewhere in the middle state, one needs quite a good sense of humor. In that spirit, they’ve built a successful apparel and design business catering to the cheeky.

From just a few friends working together to sell their t-shirt ideas in 2005, to a bustling team of 20, the Raygun company has grown to managing the design and production of hundreds of products from its Des Moines headquarters.

With a focus on local production and Midwest pride, their products include everything from Iowa pun t-shirts — like this one on the left — to donut headbands, Don’t Go Bacon My Heart temporary tatoos, We Both Know This Isn’t an Airplane bibs for babies, and much much more.

The site is full of the political and punny, satire and sarcasm, with a special twist of inside jokes and local middle America charm.

For such a small team, Raygun churns a lot of merchandise. When it first started expanding, the team found it was really hard to track where products were in the production process and keep people accountable for deadlines. Getting ideas from the design phase to print was a inconsistent, and keeping up speed for reorders was also a big concern.

Head Designer and Operations Manager, Jennifer Leatherby says it was at this point that managers realized they needed a better way. A tool that would allow not only task and project management, but visibility. That’s when Raygun found Taskworld.

“The biggest challenge for us was always accountability. With Taskworld and the ability to assign work, team members can see what everyone’s working on, where they fit in and stick to deadlines.” — Leatherby

Since employing Taskworld for its product management, the Raygun team has been able to streamline the production process and speed up work.

“We are better able to track the progress of new releases and product updates. With this much transparency, people are motivated to contribute and do their part to make sure everyone succeeds.”

And succeed they are. In addition to Raygun’s online store, the team is now running three retail locations in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Kansas City. Thanks in part to its product management superpowers, and more in part to its charming, cheeky, kitschy, LOL products.

Raygunsite.com — Sample Products

A special thank you to Jennifer Leatherby for sharing her team’s story. To see more of Raygun’s hilarious products, head to their website.

Jennifer Leatherby, Raygunsite.com