Supply Chain Crash Course: Jimmy Sansone

  • Season 3, Episode 6
  • January 10, 2023
  • 32 minute listen

Supply Chain Crash Course: Jimmy Sansone

I basically had to come out of there with our own factories, or we wouldn't have had a collection. We wouldn't have had anything to sell.


A common complaint about managing supply chain logistics is the lack of visibility beyond one or two layers into the chain. How do leaders overcome that—especially when the need is urgent?

Episode Description

If you read the website for Jimmy Sansone’s company, he doesn’t beat around the bush: He hated working in finance—a career he pursued for five years after earning his business degree from WashU. But then, there was that shirt ...

Yes, Sansone made a shirt. A shirt he loved. A shirt he thought everyone would love. He called it the Normal Shirt. And in 2015 he quit his finance job, moved into his parents’ basement and started making shirts. Full time. And people loved them. His brothers joined him right away and now they run it together.

People might have loved them too much. Because that’s when Sansone, BSBA 2010, realized they didn't have the supply chain expertise they needed. How do you source fabric, thread, buttons? How do you define cut, color and wash? How do you ship products from Asia to your distribution markets?

“We had a middle-man that was handling a lot of this,” Sansone said. “Then we didn't have one in the middle of the season.” That was 2016.

They’d never talked directly to a factory owner. They’d never directly managed shipping from a different country. “We had no visibility into the process. We weren't in control of that. We needed to learn quickly and have people on the team who could handle it,” he said.

“We had to source the backup plan very quickly,” he said. “Had we not been able to do that, we probably wouldn't have the company.”

How did he do it? How did he go from zero to 100 mph in the supply chain world on the turn of a dime? What did he learn in the process? And what would he counsel others to do in the same situation?

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This podcast is a production of Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin Business School. Contributors include:

  • Katie Wools, Cathy Myrick, Judy Milanovits and Lesley Liesman, creative assistance
  • Jill Young Miller, fact checking and creative assistance
  • Hayden Molinarolo, original music and sound design
  • Mike Martin Media, editing
  • Sophia Passantino, social media
  • Lexie O'Brien and Erik Buschardt, website support
  • Paula Crews, creative vision and strategic support

Special thanks to Ray Irving and his team at WashU Olin’s Center for Digital Education, including our audio engineer, Austin Alred.

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