We LOVE a good boutique story here on Marketplace and the boys behind t-shirt brand, Tee Co., definitely have an amazing tale to tell. We caught up with one half of team Tee Co., Jon Ogden, to get the scoop on their boutique.
Describe Tee Co. in a nutshell: what’s it all about and how did you get started?
Tee Co. was started in 2013 with my brother, Rick. There was a gap in the market for independent UK artists being able to use their artistic talent to enter into the fashion industry.
Ultimately the idea is that we help independent UK artists grow, gain new fans and give them a new source of income; they get a direct commission for every tee sold. Our aim is to nuture genuine artistic talent and create high quality, 100% ethical pieces. We have spent a lot of time making sure our product is right up there in terms of print quality, fabric feel and packaging with any of the top high street brands.
You donate £1 for every tee you sell to charity as part of your Arts for Arts initiative, which is awesome! Aside from that just being an amazing thing to do, did something inspire you to give back in this way?
We both wanted to have a social element to our business as we have both engaged in volunteer work in the past. We also loved the concept of how Warby Parker (the glasses retailer) had such a big impact in eyewear for developing countries. They were our inspiration for the Arts for Arts initiative.
I travelled to Nepal in 2006 and since then I’ve felt a connection with the country. Simple things like good quality art supplies and art lessons are not readily available to little ones in Nepal like they are in the UK. We currently partner with Nepal Orphans Home; we’re going to make our first donation later this year (we’re planning on making a contribution for a years’ supply of art equipment, which will be a huge achievement for my brother and I) before looking to work with some UK hospitals, too. We’re hopefully going to provide pro-bono art for hospital waiting areas. The cool thing with the Art for Arts initiative is it is going to be an evolving project. As we get bigger, we are going to be using the fund to do projects in other countries.
Tell us a bit about some of the artists you work with on prints for your boutique.
Danny O'Connor of Liverpool has been one of the very original artists to collaborate with us. From the get go his Opposites Attract design has been a best seller with orders from the US and Australia to date as well as the UK, of course.
Birmingham-based Terrina Bibb brings to the table a really unique style on some popular culture themes such as her FOXY tee which is one of our summer must-haves.
Also we have the mega talented Dom Allen from Manchester and he produces some of the very cool designs with a unique twist like his Dot of Oz tee - we love this one.
Got any dream future artist collabs in mind?
There is so much awesome talent out there, we just want to work with amazing artists who like the idea of what we are trying to do. What's so great is the more established we've become, the more we’re naturally beginning to attract some great artists to who dig the ethos behind our brand. I'd say those are the people who are our dream collaborations rather than any specific artists.
What’s the five-year plan for Tee Co. Where do you see the brand heading in the near future?
Right now is so exciting for us actually. We are in the middle of doing two big collaborations with well-known UK musicians: One is international DJ Yousef who asked us to collaborate with him on a small range of new t-shirt concepts for the launch of his new album CIRCUS X using the designs of Danny O'Connor. The other is with hip-hop alternative artist Bipolar Sunshine who is running a competition with us to design their next range of t-shirt for their summer tours.
Moving forward we want to continue to use our Marketplace boutique to showcase our brand to a huge audience, with a view to maybe stocking in more places and maybe opening our own Tee Co. store one day. Watch this space…
Check out Tee Co’s boutique to shop their latest drop.