I will never forget the excitement I had going into a meeting with one of my professors, Dr. J back in grad school. I had the idea of launching a Christian clothing business from way back when and he had a side business that helped start-ups. I came prepared with all my notes, my hand-drawn ideas scribbled into a notebook from years ago and a prototype of a zip-up hoodie that had embroidered crosses and verses stitched all over it. I was so excited! See, Dr. J, now this is what I’m talking about! See this cool hoodie??!! It’s a nicer, higher-end product that I really think people would buy! He, of course, has far more knowledge than I and he is asking questions and pondering it all…thankfully not anything like “Shark Tank”; I would never have survived that type of questioning. He was genuinely being a kind fella and hearing me out. At the end of our meeting (as I am walking out) he asked me to write a “Theology of a Hoodie.” K…. hmmm….ok. That’s it? What on earth does he mean, I thought? I also thought, are you kidding me dude, you know full well how many books and papers we must write in graduate school and now you are asking me to (for fun) write a theology of a hoodie?!
Well, here it is almost 8 years later. (BTW I still do not know exactly what he was asking for, however, I have a far better understanding of hoodies after creating and selling them for almost 3 years now). “Theology” means a theological theory or system” I am going with just the theory or system; my guess is that was what he was asking for?
So, here is my brief explanation of how the system works, at least in my case. Most t-shirt companies, (come to find out) are either started because the person or one of the persons has a graphic arts degree and the software to design art, or they have a heat-press, or a screen press, or they have both, both a graphic artist degree and press. Well, true to form, I have neither, go figure, however, that did not stop me! I have always kind of done things the hard way. Truth be told, the Lord provided a graphic artist in the beginning, (now that is an amazing story that I will save for a later post) as well as a printer. So, once I have an idea, I share that with my graphic designer who begins to create mock-ups of what I have in mind. Shockingly, this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes several tries from two different noggins and eventually we arrive at an acceptable, no scratch that, an amazing design! Yippee! Then, if I have not chosen a garment for that particular design, I need to order in samples, wash said samples, wear them to see how they fit, determine if they run too small, or too large. Sometimes order more samples and eventually decide on a garment. I am pretty picky with what I put out there, all our items are very soft and wearable. Then, we order the garments, they get shipped to the printer and we wait to see how one looks before continuing to print the whole enchilada, and then we pick them up! Yay! Now, we need a professional photographer (her name is Regina Ochs “Flawless Faces and Photos”) to take a photo of the model and garment and then she edits, and then it goes to the amazing Lisa Bozarth who further crops and places on the site with a description and explanation of the garment, where the 10% is going to etc.
WHEW! I am exhausted just typing it all out! That is the “theology” of one shirt or one single hoodie. Lemme tell ya, there is a lot of time, much prayer, effort, money, brain cells and love that go into each and every garment that we create. And, you know what? I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is a labor of love and we hope that you can sense that in our garments. So, Dr. J, is this what you were looking for? I am guessing way back then, I had zero idea of what I would have written had I had the time to write yet another paper in school. Thank you for your gentle guidance and support, in the beginning, it was worth the wait to experience the system before explaining it. And, even though it takes a ton of effort and time to produce just one little t-shirt or hoodie, much to my husband’s chagrin, I still find myself saying often, “Now, that would be a great t-shirt!”
Another trip around the sun. A friend gifted me custom pints of ice cream and one of the labels displayed this saying: “Another year sweeter” Super cute, however I don’t know about that. 😉 As I look forward to my birthday each year, this one is hitting me a bit differently than previous years.
As I gazed over at the side table in our kitchen that holds several b-day cards received this week, some touching, some funny, all of them thoughtful, and looked at the material gifts that I had received each day this week as the Lord so graciously ordained. My thoughts turned to my dad (and the fact that he is now gone from this earth as of Jan 6th this year) and the thought that the absolute best gift I could receive (from the Lord) was seeing a bluebird on my birthday. I wept at the thought. As, I have yet to see one since dad’s death.
As I woke up this morning (quite melancholy, knowing that this day will not be unlike most others unfortunately) after a restless night of sleep and continued my day as always, feeding the pups, reading devotionals and praying, making coffee, walking the pups etc.…It does hit me that even though my dad, Lou did not recall that Oct 7th was my b-day for many years preceding his death, which was super hurtful the first year that happened, it hit me that no one loves you quite like your parents. And, when they are gone, nothing will ever be quite the same. There is a deep void in our heart and soul that realizes, no one will love you in the same way your parents did. That is my experience now (in this moment) and I realize that will not be everyone’s experience. I was blessed to have parents that loved me despite my flaws, which were truly my biggest cheerleaders in this temporary life on earth. And, when they are both gone from this earth, it changes things, and that truly did not hit me until this week leading up to my b-day.
We entered 2021 excited for what was to come. Things were looking up! We had a goal, a vision, and a purpose that gave us great joy. We had it all planned out. Our amazing graphic designer, Preston, had created the artwork. I had sourced just the right garments. Our trusty local printer printed onto the amazing garments. We had created giftable items for folks who might be looking for something more than apparel. We spent several months curating, sourcing, and working towards our goal of launching THE most amazing thing ever. We had a plan; (we have learned over 5 years to plan far ahead of the seasons.) We even had a pop-up planned at a trendy store. We were super excited to launch this powerful, hopefully life-giving movement. Everything was on target.
Then…during a benign Monday night in early January, we got a phone call. For anyone who has ever been a caregiver, you know that when you see the facility name and number pop up on your screen, your heart drops a little bit.
In mid-March, Kansas declared that schools would close for the rest of the school year. Other states soon made the same determination.
Very quickly we started hearing terms like “Shelter at Home” and “Social distancing.” “Quarantine” was a word seldom heard these days…until now when we hear it daily.
The words “Pandemic” and “Plague,” although foreign and strange to the younger generation, engender memories giving rise to fear in the minds and hearts of the oldest among us.
Businesses and churches closed,
The economy faltered,
Violence at home is increasing,
and Deaths from the virus are reported daily.
Many of us have only seen times like these in movies or read about them in books.
and Discouragement is on the rise, exacerbated by the news reports and accompanied by weather fluctuations from cold and wintry to mild and spring-like and back to wintry again.
And we are all wondering, "How long???"
Nothing is certain except that nothing is certain.
I always love it when I read those words “But God” in my Bible. Often they follow bad circumstances or evil, offering hope to a situation that would otherwise seem hopeless.