Julia’s Clues for Custom Jerseys
Julia Drew has three absolutely adorable daughters—triplets, currently in first grade. When the girls were younger, she dressed them in identical outfits, making it more difficult for most people to distinguish among them, but making it far easier for her to keep track of them. Not surprisingly, Julia noticed that dressing all three girls in the same outfit contributed to their sense of themselves as a team. When the girls went to school, however, they split-up into three separate classrooms, and their individual talents and temperaments emerged. Then, one by one, each of the three girls signed-up for a youth sport: One chose soccer, one chose competitive swimming, and one chose softball. All three insisted, however, “Of course, we want to cheer for one another at games.” Inspired with team spirit and filled with love and enthusiasm for her emerging athletes, Julia got busy creating t-shirts.
A Handful of Great T-shirt Ideas
The first set of Julia’s custom-crafted t-shirts received so many rave reviews among parents, players, and friends, she made a second set. Then, she started taking requests, and eventually her fledgling t-shirt enterprise grew into a thriving cottage industry. To spur t-shirt sales, Julia follows a handful of proven design principles.
Start simple. Have a gimmick.
The first set of shirts had the same design, but Julia differentiated the girls’ shirts according to their team colors. On the front of each shirt, she appliquéd “Team Drew.” On the back of each shirt, she put each girl’s name, and then, similar to jersey numbers, she appliquéd 1/3, signifying triplets, of course. The fraction naturally drew attention and inspired curiosity; when Julia explained the inside joke, people laughed out loud. When Julia agreed to make practice jerseys for the softball team, unorthodox numbers became a fashion statement. One girl chose the symbol for pi, another chose the equal sign, and a third chose “1212,” the digits for her birthday. Since then, unusual numbers have become Julia’s design signature.
Kids love their own creations.
When her daughter first joined the swim team, it had no mascot. Julia and the coaches agreed the swimmers should choose a mascot and then submit their own designs for a logo; the results dazzled coaches, parents, siblings and rivals. Because each design differed dramatically from all the others and every design seemed shirt-worthy, the team got a new shirt for each meet, and profits from t-shirt sales paid for custom swim caps. The softball team applied the “let the kids do it” principle by holding a t-shirt party after the league’s “opening day” festivities. Using glitter and “puffy paints,” each player created her own custom shirt in the team colors. Because Julia wisely chose the t-shirts to complement the uniforms, the girls generally wore their custom shirts under their jerseys.
If it works for a tee, it works for a hoodie.
Your local sporting goods store or an online vendor can silkscreen your custom designs on sweatshirts just as easily as football, soccer, and baseball jerseys. For little more than the hats’ cost, you can find a vendor who will embroider your logo on baseball caps, floppy hats or beanies. For swimmers, Hardcore Swim, a family-owned southern California swimsuit maker, can render your custom design in the team colors on training or racing suits; they also can silk-screen your logo or motto on latex or lycra swimcaps. Best of all, your custom suits and caps cost less than comparable Speedo or Nike gear.
Tees double as coaching tools.
Julia’s triplets discovered their own family spirit, and then Julia discovered the t-shirts’ motivational power. “When we wear our team shirts,” she tells the girls, “we act the way good team members should.” The girls naturally agree. Julia coaches the girls with her expression, “Girls on this team always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’,” and she has at least a bajillion other admonitions for what the girls on this team do. She reports the expression has taken on a life of its own, and therefore it soon will become a whole collection of t-shirts.
Julia loves the arts and crafts that drive her business, but she emphasizes that “If you have a crisp, clean design, dozens of online t-shirt vendors can sell you the shirts and do your printing at very low prices. Most online vendors do not charge for set-up and shipping when you meet their minimum order requirements.” The Drew triplets are developing their distinctive identities and styles, but on game days, they happily wear identical outfits.