How We Got Here - A Multi-Part Stroll Down Memory Lane
I’m not exactly sure when it started, but I feel like it started early. I remember this old drab brown t-shirt that my dad used to wear that said “US Army Bull Shirt” and it had a Sgt. Slaughter looking bull in a full metal jacket, smoking a stogie, sporting a stern look as any good drill sergeant would. I eventually ended up with that shirt and have since had to trash it because it was “well worn.” I vaguely remember a couple others but not even enough to describe. T-shirts were alway the first thing I shopped at my favorite stores because I wore them more than anything else. T-shirts were the ONLY thing I shopped at Goodwill and believe me, I have SHOPPED at Goodwill. I made it a point to visit a Goodwill in different areas as often as I could because the tees are the best. My go-to was the Rec. League or church ball “jerseys”. A Gildan t-shirt with the name of some sponsor, team, organization and a simple vinyl number on the back was my holy grail. Maybe it stemmed from my mom and mamaw both working at Hanes. I remember random graphic tees being brought home for some reason. Not like they were stealing them because they were printed and clearly something that had been culled or donated, I don’t know. I’m just trying to pinpoint at what stage this became a “thing” for me. Whenever it happened, clearly it happened. But for some reason I had some strange affinity to t-shirts.
One day, I decided that teaching high school history was not the end all for me, I felt unsatisfied and trapped. I started grad school to get an MBA degree and hopefully land a desk job at one of the bigger companies here locally. I interviewed for a couple of entry level positions and didn’t have any luck. I guess they didn’t like to hear that I wanted to run their company, what else would I want to do if I worked for your company. I felt like I wanted to be the best I could be if I were working for another company. I straight up told a lady who was in line to take over one local company that I worked for that I would be running the place in 15 years, in not so many words. I just believe in myself when I commit. I know that I can work my way to success in anything that I decide to do, it seems like it’s been my modus operandi for many, many years. For whatever reason, I quickly got discouraged with the job searching and started thinking about other ways that I could make a career move. I had wanted to coach football more than anything else in the world. I wasn’t really great at it, honestly. I’m good at relationships but I wasn’t good at Xs & Os. But I enjoyed it for several years until the parents got too involved and made it more of a headache than anything else, so I stepped away. I wasn’t going to have time if I were going to return to grad school anyway which was pretty much already a done deal. I started to throw around ideas about what I could do to get out of teaching since the job hunt wasn’t exactly panning out. Screen printing was something that quickly came to mind, I could start the business relatively cheap, it was something that I had an interest in, and I knew several people who I felt like I could lean on to mentor me in the beginning, friends who had worked in the field.
I asked around to my buddies who had worked in the trade and the one constant that I heard was that people loved t-shirts, which is something I already knew. Again, I was wasting money every weekend at the Goodwill on t-shirts I didn’t need. So, I did a little research and found out how much I could get a legitimate set-up for so I could pursue some financing. Having not the greatest credit, due to poor financial credit card decisions in college *insert HUGE eye-roll* and student loan debt, coupled with the fact that as a beginning teacher in the state of NC, we weren’t exactly pulling in bank. It was much more challenging to secure the amount of financing that I was asking for than I ever thought possible. I wasn’t even really asking for enough money to buy a good used car, especially not in the current state of used cars. Our “bank” crunched some numbers and told us it didn’t look good but they would send it off to the underwriters and let the cards fall where they may. We were actually rejected 3 times before a mysterious 4th attempt “clicked” and we secured a line of credit to begin our newest endeavor.
As is par for the course, if something can go wrong it will. There were shipping issues, many shipping issues. Finally after a couple of weeks, several phone calls, & countless emails, we secured shipping to my dad’s work and our dreams began to take shape.