TRAVERSE CITY — Michiganders who want to boast they survived the polar vortex can display it proudly, but they had better hurry.
Tee See Tee’s supply of “I SURVIVED THE 2014 POLAR VORTEX” shirts is limited.
“I want to create this sense of urgency where people know that if they really like a Tee See Tee design they had better buy it now, because there’s a good chance that in a week’s time or a month’s time they’ll never see that design again,” Beau Warren said.
Warren owns Tee See Tee, a t-shirt design company based in Traverse City. He designs and prints Michigan-themed shirts with regional references he hopes will unite his customers with a sense of fashion, fun and state pride.
“I want things a local is really going to appreciate,” Warren said. “If they’re walking down the street wearing this shirt, they’re going to get a lot of comments on it.”
Warren officially started the business in January, but he’s spent more than 15 years dreaming of designs and doing small screen printing projects.
It started in Chicago in 2006 when a bar owner asked Warren to set up a screen printing station at the bar and sell shirts on St. Patrick’s Day. People lined up to pick out a shirt, pick out a design and watch Warren print a shirt in 10 minutes.
“I trashed the floor in that place and spilled ink everywhere,” Warren said. “It was so exciting. I really felt like a rock star doing this, and just loved it.”
He walked away with about 50 cents per shirt, roughly $3 an hour, but that didn’t matter when he saw people wearing his designs.
The experience led to an unsuccessful business venture, then to a series of jobs designing toys for companies like Hasbro and as a graphic designer for Britten Banners. He started his own graphic design business, Idea Farm, in August, and soon discovered his t-shirt designs were Idea Farm’s hottest seller.