Two T-shirt styles and a signed/editioned print are available now, each graced by a beautiful fashion illustration by J. Kirk Davis! This store launch has been casually in the works for several months, and I couldn’t be more excited about it now! And being the “experiment” that it is, of course, I had to share all the details of the process with you. (Because details are important!) Here they are, for a read, or a skim… or just a glance at some pretty pictures.
Almost a year ago, I saw Kirk’s fashion illustrations for the first time. I had just quit my job to freelance full-time, and he wrote me a congratulatory email that said, “Follow your HEART, and follow it EARLY, and don’t DROP OUT! Trust the old man here on this one.” Attached were two of his illustrations, which I promptly fell in love with — those particular drawings were done and inspired by Halston. I knew right away that I had to use them somewhere.I was already working for a company that offered award-winning screen printing, already writing a fashion blog, and already intrigued by the idea of entering the business side of the eco-fashion world myself. I didn’t want to create something that would create a “false need,” or make much of an impact, or have a high price point, or be anything that I wouldn’t wear myself — but by printing these fashion illustrations on T-shirts, I could serve several of my beliefs: “Everyone could use another T-shirt (especially the soft ones),” and “Supporting art is philanthropic,” and “The world should be filled with more meaningful, beautiful things.”
Kirk showed me the rest of his portfolio, and we started planning a series. It would be fabulous. For another artistic eye on our first shirt, I turned to my mainstay Heather, a fantastic designer herself (who just happened to design my FLP logo), who helped me throw around ideas for the tee’s graphic treatment, created the watercolor splash behind the illustration on the scoop-neck and fixed up all our final art files. Heather has fantastic style, and her suggestions and affirmation give me so much more confidence in my own decisions, which means the world to me! The evening after Kirk, Heather and I made a digital comp of our final T-shirt design, we sent it to Katie for her thoughts. She loved it. (And immediately started telling me how she’d wear it.)
In Brooklyn while getting his Master’s at Pratt, Kirk illustrated this guy from memory. The windowpane plaid jacket, the blonde hair, the bold lines and random scribble — I LOVE this drawing! Not to mention that it channels a beautiful Jack and Bobby Kennedy-meets-Paul Newman-meets-Robert Redford vibe that makes me swoon.
Kirk worked as a creative director in corporate America for 30 years on both coasts, for names like Playtex, Mattel, Hanes, Nestle and Hallmark, before creating his own consulting business here in Kansas City. I met him on one of those consulting gigs when I worked at Willoughby. One of the eight or so design concepts he’d be working on at our office was to be aimed at 20-somethings, and I’d walk into the room in heels and he’d say, “Well, we’ve got our focus group right here! Janet (sic), what do you say to…” It was endearing, to say the least. Jon and I have kept up with him ever since.
Tees manufactured by Alternative
Not just any T-shirt was going to work for this project. I considered multiple brands and materials before officially deciding to go with Alternative Apparel’s Alternative Earth line. Not only do these shirts feel great, they’re 100% organic cotton and made under great labor conditions. Alternative’s guidelines for vendors include a respectful workplace, ability to form unions, payment of at least local minimum wage or prevailing industry wage (whichever is higher), no forced labor, no child labor and compliance and beyond-compliance with all applicable environmental laws and regulations. Read here for more about Alternative’s Social Responsibility. I did choose to use pre-made blanks for this round, but for future releases I have a short list of fabulous companies that I’d like to consider creating custom cut-and-sew options with.
I love a plain white tee as much as anyone else. But I’m going to put it all out on the table here — sometimes I sweat, and as a result sometimes my whites don’t stay as white as I’d like them to. But off-white? No sweat! It’s a keeper.
Tees printed by Storenvy
Not only are these tees printed with water-based inks that are super eco-friendly, they are also some of the softest prints ever. (Especially after you wash them.) We custom-printed the tags as well, with a “Fashion Loves People ? Kirk” insignia. Storenvy screen printing is all done by experienced, well-paid artists in a shop outside of Chicago.
Framable art prints
Why stop at the T-shirt? To help Kirk’s illustration live forever, we’ve created 50 limited-edition 5?x7? prints that Kirk has signed and numbered. They are printed on a heavy linen-like stock that once served as sample stock for design firms, but it was no longer needed and became doomed to the recycling bin. So it’s like pre-consumer waste, but still in its original, high-quality state. The first 20 T-shirt orders from my online store will get the print for free!
$1 per sale to Not For Sale
For each item I sell, I’ll be donating $1 to Not For Sale, which works globally to fight human trafficking and slavery. Founded by journalist David Batstone, who compellingly encourages us to work together to abolish the slavery of 27 million people around the world today, Not For Sale is a fantastically scrappy and passionate organization that I am confident will put each and every one of these dollars to good use. Get Batstone’s book here, and read more about Not For Sale’s work here.
Sarah “Succi” Hillis is the one responsible for making us all look so good from behind the camera lens — though she could be in front of it herself! She took time out of her busy schedule as a photography student at the Kansas City Art Institute to help us out, and we are eternally grateful. And that stunning home you see in the backdrop of all our photos? It’s Kirk’s, right in the heart of Brookside. Gorgeous.
This was a decision that didn’t even take a second thought. I knew that I wanted to show different “interpretations” of wearing the shirts, and how better to do that than through our own personal style? I knew that Katie, Heather and I would each have a different spin on how we would wear the shirts, and Dylan was good enough to join us for an afternoon of “hanging out while we all wear the same shirt.” And just a little bit of posing.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m using Storenvy for my online store. Yes, I work for Storenvy, but I would use it even if I didn’t work for the site! I have a customized and completely free online storefront, plus my products can get exposure throughout the social side of the site if people like them enough.
You know how fun it is to get a box delivered to your doorstep with a big Amazon or Zappos logo on it? I wanted the experience of receiving one of my packages to be just as happy! Using packing envelopes and hangtags made from all recycled materials, I’ve hand-stamped each with custom rubber stamps of my logo that I had made locally. A baby stamp for the tag (1.25?) and a huge stamp for the envelope (3.75?). I ordered my kraft-board envelopes from uline.com and chose the option with the highest recycled content (80%) that would accommodate both tees and prints (stiff enough to keep the prints from getting bent in the mail)