The 5th installment of Threadbird’s Artist Series brings us to the heart of the windy city. We caught up with Shari Neal to find out more about the heart behind Bon Bon Vie…
What is Bon Bon Vie? It’s such a unique name, how did you come up with it?
Bon Bon Vie is my t-shirt line that I started in 2010. I got the name from the song “Bon Bon Vie” by T.S. Monk (YouTube link here). I found out about the song from a friend and I really liked the name and it seemed really unique.
Why did you decide to start Bon Bon Vie?
There are a few reasons. I decided to start Bon Bon Vie because I needed an outlet where I could just design and be creative outside of work. I also have always wanted to start my own business. And last, I love t-shirts.
Your designs aren’t the average “emptees” print with large monsters or 100 bright colors. How do you come up with the designs for Bon Bon Vie?
The designs are just things that are in my head. They are usually from song titles or things friends say, Chicago related (where I was born & raised and still live), etc. I have never been into complicated designs. I like things that are really simple. I tend to also approach t-shirt designs like I would a logo. I like my tees to be something that people will see and remember.
What have been your biggest hurdles to overcome in getting this far with Bon Bon Vie?
I would say the biggest hurdle has been doing everything myself. I’m kind of a control freak, so I convinced myself I could do everything. Not true! Seriously people, hire professionals to do the stuff you’re not good at. It’ll save you a lot of time and money.
New clothing companies sprout up on a daily basis. What do you feel sets Bon Bon Vie apart from everyone else?
Well, though I have men’s tees too, there don’t seem to be a lot of small female owned tee companies out there that cater to women…so I truly believe I bring a fresh perspective.
Do you have any advice you could impart to budding clothing lines who could learn from mistakes you may have made in your past?
YES. Do your research! Get a business plan book, learn everything there is to know about this industry. Also, do not start a business without having enough money to do so and definitely plan how you plan to get funding (see my comment about getting a business plan book above). And make sure you are passionate about this. It will be hard work if you want to be successful at this…the passion is what gets you through the times that suck.
We always ask a few desert island questions… If you could only take one of each, what would they be: 1) Book 2) Music 3) Something Random?
- Book: “All my friends are dead.”
- Music: Michael Jackson’s “Off The Wall” album
- Something Random: A notebook
Is there a featured product right now, or something that you’d like us to highlight?
What has been your favorite piece so far? Why?
My favorite tee is Brown Skin Lady because it was the first tee I thought of. I had that idea in my head for years and I always imagined it in a 70’s Foxy Brown kind of font. It was also the first tee I got printed and it continues to be my best seller.
Do you have any message you’d like to share with people who will read this about Bon Bon Vie?
Is there a sale going on or a possible coupon code we can give out with the feature?
Yup! Use the discount code THREADBIRD for 10% off your order!