THIRTEEN TURNS TWO
11/13/15, the day our website went LIVE. I'm not great at math but I can tell you that's TWO. FULL. YEARS.
Normally, we post about custom design and design concepts on the blog but this month, I want to share our journey with you in celebration/recognition of our TWO YEAR ANNIVERSARY!
It's wild, really. I think it's crazy how things happen... how one experience or decision leads to the next and you look back to realize everything has changed.
Hi, I'm Paige.
(Photo by Rebecca Brookstein Photography, @rebeccabrooksteinphotography)
I went to F.I.T. (the Fashion Institute, not to be confused with Florida) as a fashion design major specializing in eveningwear. I loved all things beaded, shiny and lacey. There was a program for activewear/sportswear at our school and I specifically remember thinking and verbalizing how I would NEVER want to design activewear. Never say never, as they say (Justin Beiber said it, too).
This was my senior collection... def not t-shirts
January 2013-September 2015 I was working my "dream job." But hey, things change. At the same time, I started getting really into fitness. Prior, I was FAR from fit. I exercised on rare occasion and ate HORRIBLY (like, bad. My diet almost exclusively consisted of PB&J, cheeze-its, chicken nuggets, no veggies in sight). Fast forward, it snowballed into me lifting weights, joining CrossFit, spinning and trying every way of eating I could (paleo, vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, IIFYM, juicing and juice cleanses, etc...)
Fitness began to really change my life. I realized it was becoming more than just a hobby; it was becoming my lifestyle and this other passion which was extremely confusing to me. For my entire life, I pretty much knew what I wanted. I worked hard for it and all of a sudden, my feelings were shifting. In the midst of trying to cope with this confusion, I decided to get Spinning (TM) certified so I could get my foot in the fitness door while still maintaining my job in fashion.
Long story, still long but abbreviated, I started teaching spin and teaching more... and more until I slowly worked my way out of fashion. Phew, I did it. But a few months of full force fitness made me realize this is NOT who I am. At least, not totally. I AM creative and I NEED to design. The way I feel when I design is something I have a hard time putting into words but I'm going to try to: when something inspires me or an idea hits, I get a huge adrenaline rush... almost so much that I can't actually channel that energy into designing. I have to write it down or do research to try to focus it in, sit on it. Eventually, I'll find my way to the computer and when I'm IN the design, I lose track of time and I even forget to eat (that's a big deal because I really love food). I get physically high, I shake a little. I legit feel crazy but it's so exciting and overwhelming in the best way. So, being 100% fitness left me without that high.
Walking on the East River, NYC with my AMAZING friend, Gina (fitness professional and co-blogger of www.jetsetandforget.com) I was telling her how I was feeling, how I felt like maybe I should just make gym t-shirts (at this point, I had been building up my graphic design portfolio and resume for a few years on the side). She asked me, "Why don't you?" I responded, "I don't know." She asked again.... "So, why don't you?"
The next day (July 2015), I applied for the LLC, I decided on a company name, I designed the logo and I started working. At this point, I was preparing designs, ordering stock, designing the website and brand concept all for the launch Friday, November 13th, 2015.
For the first six months, I was figuring it out. Is this a hobby? Is this just a side project for now? Is this something I want to pursue? I really didn't know. It wasn't a priority in comparison to my paying jobs but it was something I was working on.
(One of our OG designs, the ELEMENTS Tee)
That June, I made the move to be a vendor down in Florida (why Florida when I live in New York? I don't even know. I was just kinda like, let's do something crazy and shipping my entire stock down the coast was crazy to me!). I'm lucky to have friends and family who support me so much so I brought along with me my father and my cousin, Danielle to help man the booth of the 3-day event. At this point, I was in love with this brand and decided this was my priority.
(At the Bacon Beatdown with Hard2Kill Athletics)
From then on, I started booking events, mostly in and around New York to avoid the travel expenses. It has surely been a learning experience; figuring out what events work for us and what our customers want (trial and error!).
In the past year and a half, I think the brand has really started to understand itself, its aesthetic and identity, and is more confident in its message. Sure, there are PLENTY of t-shirt companies. It's a competitive market but I'm a competitive person. I've had people allude to/straight up tell me how I've picked a bad market to be in because of how saturated it is, especially now when athleisure IS what people wear. But you know what I say?! BRING IT ON. I love competition, I thrive in chaos and hey, we've made it two years already!!
(Photos by Stephanie Garrido)
I'm certainly biased but I think we have a few things that help us stand out.
1. Our message, design and identity - everything we do has a reason, the details we include are put there on purpose to make sure the customer feels the message when they wear the apparel. Our designs have meaning and symbolism with a minimal, modern approach. We are more than t-shirts. We are a lifestyle, we are a mission! Read more about our concept by clicking HERE :) and to read more about the deets, click THIS
2. Custom design - we have our collection of tanks and tees but we absolutely go crazy for custom design. We've been so lucky to work with amazing brands, organizations, and individuals, bringing our quality and design aesthetic into their shirts (the MS Society, the National MS Society, Concrete Jungle Strength + Conditioning, Crouse NICU, FITWeek by Empowered, bachelorette parties, team shirts, event tees, just to name a few).
3. Customer service - coming from the luxury market and retail, I've definitely learned the value of making the customer's experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. Whether it's how we wrap orders with hand-written notes or following up with them to be sure their product is exactly what they wanted, we want to connect to our customers. At the end of the day, sure I own the company but we wouldn't be one if it weren't for the customers and community. I always tell people, once you purchase a shirt from Thirteen, you are a part of Team Thirteen. Without you, we've got nothin'.
Since our first anniversary SO much has happened. More custom design, more products added to the collection, more events, just MORE! Our newest not-shirt launch was our blog (that you're obviously reading), Thirteen Underground.
And what's in our future? Right now, we are working on a website revamp. It's time to level up!! New photos by Rebecca Brookenstein Photography are coming soon (@rebeccabrooksteinphotography), BUT THAT'S NOT ALL. New winter gear is coming in within the next few weeks AND we are in the development phase of our own leggings and joggers!! More events coming, more custom coming... we are certainly not slowing down.
*Raise your glass* or *cup of coffee* (because, Monday)... Here's to another year of growth, health, wealth and #ULTIMATESELF! Thank you to everyone who has made this brand possible... friends, family, customers, clients, community, readers, followers, TEAM THIRTEEN.
'Til next time,