April 11, 2008
We interview Jillian, CEO of indie clothing line “Delicious Tees”.
TM: How did you decide on a name for your collection?
J: I love using the adjective “Delicious” to describe things that are so palpable you can taste them. Plus, I have a lisp, so in order to work past the my fear of pronouncing “S’s,” I decided to use a word which would give me no choice. On a side note, I learned how to correctly pronounce the word “entrepreneur” this year as well.
TM: All of the shirts in your collection seem to be done in a black ink calligraphy design style. What made you decide to design your shirts in this style?
J:The art/message just felt right in black this time around. I let the color come into play with the tee blanks. I think there is a lot of purity in the stories behind each graphic and I wanted the message to be bold and clear. I am planning on adding color into my next series and maybe I will go back to these original 10 one day and recolor them all to give them new life.
TM: Are you the only artist/CEO or are there more people behind Delicious Tees?
J:Yes, I am the sole designer and owner but the stories come from the people I know and love. So in a way, I collaborate with everyone and everything. I leave myself open to any and every possibility. I am currently working on a collaboration project with 302 designs. Our objective is to come up with an original design and donate proceeds to Rise Up International, a non-profit org. whose purpose is to help children in Nicaragua, China and India rise up from the cycle of poverty.
TM: Your latest collection has a couple of really cool shirts. Which is your favorite?
J: I really do love them all but there are 2 favs. “INSTRUMENT” because this is kind of the whole mantra behind Delicious Tees…to be an “Instrument of Peace and Love” in the world. Plus, I look good in earth tones. My other favorite is “SHINE” because I wrote it for my brother. He was born with a heart condition and has been told that he is “limited” his whole life. What chance does a kid have if their mindset has been conditioned towards a direction of defeat? So I decided early on to be a source of positivity for him, expressing a mentality of “anything is possible.” and negating his fear of the unknown. My brother inspires me deeply and so I thought I would take that momentum and honor him with a t-shirt. “SHINE” reads: “Intelligence is not determined by numbers. Worth is not determined by surrounding. Let go and Shine.” The message can ring true for anyone but there’s a little back story for ya.
TM: How long have you been in the t-shirt biz and what have you learned?
J: 3 years total working in the apparel industry and Delicious Tees is 1 year old in June. I have been fortunate, through other outlets, to work on projects for large apparel brands such as Victoria’s Secret and Express. The past few years have offered me a sort of extended education and an understanding of the big picture. I now understand how a garment is sourced and manufactured, domestically as well as overseas. I understand how to design for something organic, vs flat and one-dimensional. I learned more about the screen printing process, embellishment and production. I have soooo much respect for anyone who has to separate art for a living. I have also been forced to put on the mindset of a merchant and figure out the numbers game. I am grateful to know the language and make sense of what I am doing from conception of design to final product. But at the core, I am an artist. Emotional, spontaneous and perpetually aloof towards working for the MAN. I feel most comfortable playing the role as designer, creator because I can take full responsibility for everything. Plus, I can zone out to music and listen to NPR.
TM: Where do you get your inspiration from when it comes to designing your t-shirts?
J: Everywhere, everyone. This first set was obviously influenced greatly by nature. I love anything that is organic and flows. I get a lot of ideas when I am swimming too. I like to think of a pool as my executive board room.
TM: You say your shirts represent love and unity among women. Why did you choose to go with this theme?
J: Because that’s why I am here…to spread the love. I was very careful before I started Delicious Tees to make sure that I had something different to offer. I needed a niche. We are all well aware that this business is very saturated. The great thing, however, is that there is room for all of us! Personally, I feel like I express what I know. I had a story to tell, a story that a lot of woman can relate to…a story about separation and then unity. So I went for it. Why not? I feel like our generation (kids who grew up in the 80′s-90′s) is more intuitive and fearless. I feel like the t-shirt community has a lot of open, honest and talented individuals who kind of live under the “one love” mentality.
TM: What plans do you have for the future of Delicious Tees? Are there any new collections coming up?
J: I am adding finishing touches to SERIES 2. I challenged myself to do all hand lettering and keep things sketchy and loose. I have a launch date of late summer. I also have an concept for SERIES 3. It’s an idea I came up with about 5 years ago and I might resurrect but I can’t tell you about it yet. =) Look for the collaboration between 302 designs and myself coming up next month.
TM:What tips could you give to others trying to get into the t-shirt biz?
J: Become networked with sites such as: t-shirtforum.com and threadchat.com. Both offer a great communities full of business owners, designers, and t-shirt enthusiasts. There are lots of blogs dedicated to reviewing t-shirts. I have recieved some nice reviews from shirtsnob.com and tshirtwatch.com. Some people will ask you to send a sample, others will just base a review off web images. I think the better reviews come from the sites that actually get a sample, so if you are willing to give away a few tees in trade for some free press, go for it! There are a million sites dedicated to networking with other female business owners. The Switchboards (www.theswitchboards.com) is a great one to check out, as well as anything on the Indie/Crafter circuit. Lastly, trade shows probably offer the best way to network your t-shirts to the largest audience. Pool Trade show is my favorite. On a more existential level, I guess I would say- take a deep breath and remember what used to motivate you as a kid and let your mind wander around there for a while. Now, when I look back on my childhood, it isn’t a t-shirt that brought me to some “ah ha” moment. But I always had that connection to nature, humanity and creativity, so it’s no surprise that my path has brought me here.
FOR MORE ON DELICIOUS TEES, CHECK OUT THE WEBSITE: shopDeliciousTees.com