The unbelievable true story of Tee See Tee!
Hello, my name is Beau Warren, and I am addicted to t-shirts...
As far back as I can remember, I have been obsessed with t-shirts. I remember asking my mom for whatever the hip t-shirt brand was back in 1987, and her instead taking me to the craft store to buy puffy paint, so I could make my own version of that tee. I would draw yin yangs, killer whales, and peace signs all over my boring blank t-shirts, and wear them to school proudly. When kids saw what I did, they wanted me to deck out their shirts, shoes, jackets and backpacks! This was my first foray into a t-shirt business, as I started trading my puffy paint skills for snacks at school.
Fast forward a LOT of years, and one film degree from U of M(where I furthered my love of all things cinema) and Graphic Design degree later, I worked an internship with Little Blue Alien Apparel. Never heard of it? Not surprised, it was an extremely obscure company, with a great group of people, based out of Toronto. I designed over 30 different t-shirts, onesies, and more based on several alien characters I created for them. I wish it would have come to fruition, because the designs were REALLY good, but like so many other companies, it eventually disappeared.
So I took matters into my own hands....literally.
Cue Chicago, the city where I learned how to screen print. I fell in love with it because, like so many other great art forms, it really seemed to be bursting onto the scene in Chicago. I saw local artists doing incredible screen printing everywhere I went, and ultimately, I thought, "Why can't I do that?" I landed some amazing gigs at bars, concert halls, and more, where I attempted the impossible, live screen printing(i.e. My second foray into the t-shirt industry). It was an incredibly stressful, and messy operation, but some of my favorite memories of Chicago were the events I worked at(*Thank you Chicago Afrobeat Project!). But it wasn't meant to be, not yet anyway.
Growing bigger and bigger, I took on a job for a law firm for about 500 shirts. Because it was such an important client, I invested in a new, fancy water based ink. What I didn't know was that this ink needed to be cured differently, something I learned soon after my client called me to ask why the design on all the shirts was literally running off in the light rain at the event. I can laugh about it now, over a decade later, but at the time, it was horrific. I lost thousands on this job, and retired the printing press, vowing to never look back.
Third time is a charm.
My wife and I moved to our home town of Traverse City("TC" for short, hence the company name) to start our beautiful family. Soon after arriving home, I began working as the chief designer for TentCraft, an awesome event printing company. Every so often, a customer, and sometimes an employee, would turn to me for help designing a t-shirt, since that was something I used to do. In time, I spent far more energy and enthusiasm in the occasional t-shirt jobs coming through than I did for my actual job! I started designing funny tees after hours, and one such design was based on a wonderful woman named Sweet Brown. Sweet Brown had arguably one of the first truly viral videos, which featured her saying "Ain't Nobody Got Time For That!" As soon as I heard it I had to put it on a t-shirt, so I did, and I threw it up on a makeshift website. Next thing you know, I am printing thousands of these. I am so screwed now, because just when I thought I could leave the t-shirt industry, they pulled me back in!
This planted a seed which took a couple years to fully germinate, but when it did, it dominated every waking thought. I was obsessed with designing, that obsession turned into planning my new business. I went back and looked at every mistake I made, every reason previous attempts at running an apparel company failed, and I realized that it was very simple; I needed help. So I recruited the most beautiful, most intelligent business manager I knew, my wife, to handle customer service, invoicing, and vendor relations. She helped me focus on what I am best at, which is designing fun apparel that puts a smile on your face, breaks the ice with passerbys, and most importantly, ties in with memories you have of your home town. Our tagline is simple, but in my opinion, very profound and perfectly represents the original people who chose to wear our brand over any other...
*And if you actually read this entire novel, bravo! For seeing this through to the end, I am going to let you in on a secret. To sav