Giving back and getting something in return is usually not how charity works – typically, that would be called a “transaction.” However, two local t-shirt printing businesses, I Heart Garments and Outfit Good, seek to promote a purpose past the purchase.
For Cody Warren of I Heart Garments, the idea for making t-shirts that give back started when, as an avid marathoner, his closet became overwhelmed with terribly made token t-shirts. His desire to have quality-made t-shirts that could be worn time and time again— that also promote a cause or organization—quickly turned into a business concept. I Heart Garments launched, embroidering a heart on the left hip of every t-shirt.
“We’re an inspiring, motivating brand that shows how people are giving back, but something that someone appreciates,” Warren said. Of the organizations I Heart Garments has helped, many are located out of the state’s borders, including the Yellow House, a non-profit that supports education for disabled youth in East Africa.
For Natasha Wheeler and Andrew Goldsmith of Outfit Good, money raised in the community, stays in the community. Funds are poured into the t-shirt making process through an in-house screen printer; proceeds are then split 50/50 between Outfit Good and distributed to organizations native to the area.
Often, companies who benefit from Outfit Good are surprised to see that they have received “free money” from the retailer who fundraises on their behalf. For the 9,000 nonprofits located in Franklin County alone, donations could be coming soon.
“We chose to live here, this is our home—why wouldn’t we try and help everyone around us?” Wheeler said.
Outfit Good’s past partnerships span the not-so-serious ManBQue, a meat-beer-and rock n’ roll chapter that meets once a month (profits were split with the Huckleberry House), to a project devoted to an individual with sarcoidosis.
The Columbus-centered t-shirt printer aims to help non-profits, since both Wheeler and Goldsmith worked for non-profits before starting the venture.
Nationwide retailers have built their entire business model off of philanthropic apparel, which aims to
help a cause other than the business’ profits or year-end bonuses.
TOMS, the popular shoe company-turned-lifestyle marketplace, is based off a One for One mantra: for every one item sold, another helps a person in need. The non-profit (RED) partners with businesses around the world to help fight HIV/AIDS through endorsed products offered by retailers such as Starbucks, Apple, and Coca-Cola.
The concept of philanthropic apparel, merchandising—whatever suits the business at hand—is on the front-page of consumer’s decisions when deciding what to buy. And for just printing a t-shirt, helping out has never looked so good.