Threadbird Artist Series: Elevated Engineering

We recently sat down with one of our wonderful clients, Neil Westfall, to talk about his clothing line Elevated Engineering. If the name strikes you as familiar, it may be because he is the guitarist of A Day to Remember. Elevated Engineering has been Neil’s outlet for expression through design as opposed to music. Enjoy.

Elevated Engineering Logo

How did you come up with the name Elevated Engineering for a clothing brand?

We wanted a name that represented what we were going for, clothing that was engineered to a higher standard. Every item is very detail orientated from the design to the actual garment itself. 

Were you at all concerned when you started about confusion when people saw the name alone?

No, because that is exactly what I wanted. I wanted to make clothing that that made people ask questions. Somthing that made the people that knew about it feel special. 

Why did you decide to start Elevated Engineering?

I wanted a way to express my self creatively through a different medium than music.

Your designs don’t seem to follow any “theme”. How do you decide on your designs? Do you have an overall look you’re trying to achieve with Elevated Engineering?

Each design concept is an idea between us and the artist. All of the desings go back to what has influenced us to be who we are today. We have always wanted to be a company that was based heavily on art.

What do you feel has been the toughest thing for you to accomplish in the building of your brand?

Being patient. Since the brand began we have always strived to keep the growth organic. This way people that connect with it and know about it really feel special.

You’ve got a little bit of everything in your catalogue: windbreakers, tanks, shirts, hoodies, etc. Do you feel diversity in items is essential to the development of a brand? Can a clothing line exist on basic t-shirts alone?

Every brand has to start somewhere. I think for the first couple items you make you can get away with just making t-shirts. If you want to be taken seriously I feel like you need to always be investing in yourself. Making new items and pushing the bar with every release.

Do you have any advice you could impart to budding clothing lines who could learn from mistakes you may have made in your past?

I think one of the most important things to remember is the fit of an item. You should find the brand that suits what style you are going for. Samples are key with every item!

Fun question: Desert island… you can take one of each.

  • Book: How to survive on a deserted island … The book.
  • Music: I would probably bring my iPod so I was never limited.
  • Something Random: A boat so I could leave whenever I got tired of being there.

Is there a featured product right now, or something that you’d like us to highlight?

The featured product for men’s is the SKATE TEE designed by devoner 

What has been your favorite piece so far? Why?

The ELVTD CREW windbreaker. We designed this ourselves and it really means a lot to me. I can tell this design is going to be a staple piece to our brand.

DO YOU HAVE ANY MESSAGE YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE WITH PEOPLE WHO WILL READ THIS ABOUT ELEVATED ENGINEERING?

Elevated Engineering is a lifestyle. We are the masters of the free world.

Is there a sale going on or a possible coupon code we can give out with the feature?

We don’t run coupons, but all of our out of season items are currently on sale on our website:
www.elevatedengineering.com

  • Elevated Engineering Red Windbreaker
  • Elevated Engineering Eagle Shirt
  • Elevated Engineering Elevate Shirt
  • Elevated Engineering American Flag Shirt
  • Elevated Engineering Evelvated Womens Shirt
  • Elevated Engineering Sweatshirt

Threadbird Artist Series: Bon Bon Vie

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?

Nope, no featured tees at the moment. But I have 2 new tees coming out soon. You can see them here & here.

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?

Ummm…I hope you like my tees. And feel free to follow me on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/ShariBonBonVie) & Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/bonbonvie)

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!


Threadbird Artist Series: Walk In Love

After a shimmering, successful launch of Threadbird 2.0, we bring you back to the 4th installment of the Threadbird Artist Series! This month we’re featuring long time faves, Walk In Love Clothing. Let us introduce you to T.J. and Brooke Mousetis…

Give us a brief intro to T.J. & Brooke… why the not-so-secret love of the mustache?

Our love for the moustache began when we first started dating.  It was my first ever Moustache May and I was trying to impress Brooke with a gross dirt stache.  The fact that she stuck around through that was a pretty clear sign that we were meant to be.  On a more serious note, Brooke and I are “doers”, we are always asking the ourselves, “What will we think when we are 80?”  We don’t want to look back on our lives and feel like we didn’t live to the fullest.  We try to do everything to glorify God, whether taking photographs or designing shirts. Check out the following video to hear more about the journey of Walk In Love

We love the feel-good aesthetic we sense when we see your product line. It’s simple and well, good. Where do you draw your inspiration from for the Walk In Love line?

From early on in the life of Walk in Love I’ve always been drawn to clean, simple design.   I knew I wanted it to be simple so I would say that my main inspiration is… simplicity.

TJ, you quit your job a year ago to focus full-time on Walk In Love. This is something that a lot of entrepreneurs would love to do. Tell us about the decision. Looking back, was it a good one?

I used to work for a small gift and stationary company as a graphic designer and I would come home and tell Brooke about all the ways they wasted time.  I would spend 40 hours a week doing things that could have been done in 15, but was forced to sit through the extra 25.  It was brutal.  Brooke was already working from home and we were working toward both being home full time with Walk in Love and Brooke Courtney Photography. Once we were close financially, I knew that I would work as hard as I needed to to make it work and I have.  We knew that there was never going to be a “perfect time” to take the plunge, but we believed that God would take care of us and we went all in.  Looking back it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Three years ago, you opened a Kiosk in a mall. How did this opportunity come about? How have people responded? Give us a couple “mall stories”.

We started the kiosk in 2008, only open for 3 days in December.  It was probably the riskiest thing we’ve done, but we made our money back and came back in 2009 for the whole month of December.  We did well again so we came back in 2010 in a big way, with a bigger space and a bigger line… and it was awesome.  The response was great, people were really encouraging and supportive and loved the new line.  We are now working toward a full time retail space, which we hope to open in 2011.

The mall is a funny place to be.  We were having an ugly Christmas sweater party this year and I saw someone walk by wearing the sweater I was wearing for the party!  We used to have a sign outside of our kiosk and over 50 people ran into… we kept a tally.

You guys have a lot going on. Take a moment to do some shameless promotion for any/all of it so that our readers know just how far your creative tentacles can stretch.

Brooke and I love doing as much as we can without going crazy… we are full time natural light wedding and portrait photographers, Brooke Courtney Photography… we do design work, wedding invitations, identity and branding, Sixtysevensouth…  Brooke writes a blog devoted to home decor, Tiny Anchors… I have a personal blog and am designing prints while going through the Bible, www.tjmousetis.com… I also hope to release a rap album called “stachetastic”…just kidding…but seriously.

Brooke, your photography/video work is gorgeous. Threadbird wants you to come take pictures of us… How did you get started with photography?

I started taking photos of friends in college at Liberty University and they would post them to Facebook and more friends would ask.  Then, I started charging for mini-shoots and fell in love with it.  Liberty University didn’t offer a photo degree so I moved home and got my Associates in Photography.  TJ and I went to the same church growing up and when he saw my photos on Facebook he asked if I wanted to do a photo shoot for Walk in Love. I said yes and was won over by his moustache…

We love the “Secret Message” shirt. Where did the inspiration for this idea come from?

I love t-shirts and I always wished there was a way to give t-shirts to the people I loved to tell them that, with out being super cheesy with “i love you” written across the chest.  The secret message shirt was birthed out of that non cheesy need.

Your packaging shows that you take pride in the details. Seems like other companies could learn a lesson or two from you. Why do you give such attention to detail?

It took time to get there.  Brooke has such an attention for detail and she loves it when companies go the extra mile to package things nicely.  When we go shopping she points out the little things that I never really noticed, like tags and packaging, so we started incorporating all the things she was pointing out into our packaging, while trying to stay true to our brand.  Now that we are trying to open a store we are noticing displays and fixtures!

We always ask a few desert island questions… you can both answer. If you could only take one of each, what would they be: 1) Book 2) Music 3) Something Random?

I am not much of a reader, I would take the Bible. For music, I would take “Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons.  Something random: my iPad, is there WIFI on the island!?  Since I’m taking the Bible, Brooke said she would take a blank journal to write her own book.  For music, she would take Mat Kearney. Something random: a volleyball…..WILSON!!!

Is there a featured product right now, or something that you’d like us to highlight?

We are featuring our Hearts Tee and our new Secret Message Tee. The Hearts Tee is on sale for $17.

Is there a sale going on or a possible coupon code we can give out with the feature?

We can do a 15% off coupon code for April & May… just enter discount code “threadbird”!

And… come visit our brand new retail store opening April 30, 2011 in Park City Mall in Lancaster, PA!!


Threadbird Artist Series: Agape Attire

Happy new year! To help reign in TwentyEleven, we’re bringing you the 3rd installment of the Threadbird Artist Series. This month we caught up with Ross Kenyon, owner-extraordinaire of Agape Attire (and former lead singer for Confide). Read below to find out more about Agape’s great line and how Ross wants to infect the world with good.

Tell us about yourself… What’s your background? Why apparel?

I was born and raised in England and lived there until I was 21. At the age of 21, I felt God calling me to California to join a band called Confide so I left everything behind to move across the world. When I moved to California, I met a very special girl named Celina (who is now my wife) and we talked about starting a brand that could spread love and hope through the products. Celina & I have been running the line for almost four years now and it has been tough keeping it going while on the road with Confide but recently the band came to an end so we’ve been working on the line full time at home.

What does ‘Agape’ mean?

Agape is the greek word for “The love of God for mankind”.

Who designs Agape threads?

Well I actually come up with all the ideas and we work very closely with different graphic designers from around the world. I can’t name them because that would be giving away our secret weapons. Just recently though, we had a close friend, Jaxin Hall from Love Before Glory do some designs for our winter line.

How do you decide what designs you want to do and what goes into the process?

When the company first started, I would just come up with ideas and then have our designers work on the design until we were happy with it. The brand has grown a lot since then and we’ve recently started custom cut and sew products so we actually get to design products like jeans, shoes, hats and button up shirts instead of just screen printed t-shirts. We try to stick to certain styles and colors for different seasons.

Tell us about some of your favorite pieces?

I really like the jeans, shoes and snapbacks we released this year and that’s just a taste of what we have coming in 2011. We’re currently adding finishing touches to our spring line and then we’re going to send it in for production. I can’t release any pictures of upcoming products because we want it to be a surprise but we’ll let you know that we have new jeans, shoes and some awesome light weight, custom jackets for spring.

What do you think it is about Agape Attire that keeps people coming back?

I feel that there’s a connection between the customers and the people behind the brand. Celina & I are the ones that come up the ideas for the designs, we’re the ones that read and write back to every email and pack and ship every order. We’re not a huge company that has hundreds of people in a big factory. We’re just a married couple, running a clothing brand and keeping it personal. We’ve really gotten to know some of our customers and I really feel that Agape Attire is becoming more like a family and less like a regular clothing brand.

A couple random “desert island” questions… if you could only take one of each?

Book: Two books, The Bible and a “Survival for dummies” book.
Music: It would have to be some typical Hawaiian music so I could get into character on the island.
Something Random: A Cruise Ship

Is there a featured product right now?

Our featured product right now is our snapback. It’s not actually for sale, we made it specifically as a gift for customers that spend $200 or more at our online store. We made them very limited so if you’re one of the customers that gets one, it’s cool to know that you’re one of few that owns the first Agape Attire snapback.

Is there a sale going on or a possible coupon code we can give out with the feature?

We’d like to offer 15% off to anyone reading. Enter the code THREADBIRD at check-out.

Thanks Ross!

Below are just a few shirts from Agape Attire. Be sure to check out the rest right now!


Threadbird Artist Series: Fright Rags

One of the coolest things about working at Threadbird is getting to work with great people… and great artists. This week we’re starting a new series of features called the “Threadbird Artist Series”. Every so often, we’ll be interviewing a new artist that you may or may not have heard of. Help spread the love: Tweet the blog post, pass along the emails, tell your friends… and buy their stuff!
This week we interviewed Benjamin Scrivens from Fright Rags.

Fright Rags

Tell us about yourself… and why “Horror”?

My name is Benjamin Scrivens and I studied and worked as a graphic designer before making Fright-Rags my full time job. Horror movies have been a part of my life from the day I saw the original Halloween at the tender age of 4. Since then, I have practically lived and breathed horror in some form or another. It’s just always around me and present in pretty much anything I do. So when I was thinking of starting my own business, something horror related was a natural choice for me. As for t-shirts, I just felt that there wasn’t anything out there that spoke to me as a fan. All I saw were one/two color poster art reproductions. I wanted something smart & original so I decided to design shirts that I would wear myself. And when I posted the designs on a horror forum that I was an active member of, others liked them as well. It was then that I thought I could actually sell a few of them for fun.

I started the website in September 2003. My first batch of shirts sold pretty well, which allowed me to design and print a second series, and after that I just kept going. All the while I just looked at it as a hobby, but as the years went on, it started to develop a following. I got more serious about it in early 2005 and decided to take it as far as I could go with it. Within just a few months, we were selling to Hot Topic and the online business was growing exponentially, though I was still managing everything myself. Finally, in early 2008, I decided to quit my job and dedicate my full time and attention to Fright-Rags and have done so ever since. In that time we’ve grown out of two offices and I’ve taken on two full time employees and one part time employee. To this day, I see Fright-Rags as a way to bring horror fans of all ages together to share our common love for the genre. We just happen to provide the wardrobe!

What’s the most exciting thing about getting up to do what you do every day and why?

Working with people who have the same passion for horror as I do and using Fright-Rags as a conduit for all the connections we make with our friends, customers, and business partners. I get to work with my friends and just have fun celebrating something that I probably should have grown out of years ago. But here I am…33 years old and instead of wearing some button-down shirt and working in a cubicle farm, I can throw on my Evil Dead shirt and jeans and go hang with my friends at the office while horror movies play in the background. It’s amazing and I feel lucky and blessed to be able to do what I do.

How do you decide what characters/movies you want to do a shirt of and what goes into the design process?

At this point, the process is multi-faceted. Sometimes a designer presents me with an idea, and we discuss what to do with it. I always have a list going of things I want to do, or requests from people. And from there I just work with a designer and we collaborate on what we think looks best.

What do you think it is about Fright Rags that keeps people coming back and why?

While I do believe our original designs and quality printing are high on the list of what makes people come back to us, I also feel as though it is our connection with our customers that strengthens the bond. Because we are fans ourselves, we speak the same language. We’re not selling to people…we’re just creating stuff that people – and ourselves – want to wear. Plus, we show people how we do it…we show the stages of how a design is brought to life, what it looks like when it’s being printed, and even where we work. I believe in transparency of business wherever possible and I enjoy showing people the process and allowing them to be a part of it.

What are you most passionate about outside of Fright Rags… explain?

My wife and my two children are certainly my number one priority, and I enjoy all the time I get to spend with them and love being a dad. Between Fright-Rags and that, I don’t have much time for anything else, haha. However, I do enjoy exercising (biking, running, weights) which I do regularly, as well as ski in the winter. I also have a passion for great beer (mostly American microbrews) and the occasional fine cigar.

Give us your 3 must see horror movies?

  • Halloween (’78)
  • Night of the Living Dead (’68)
  • Psycho (’60)

A couple random “desert island” questions… if you could only take one of each?

  • Book: I love books…especially Stephen King. I also love business books (more on the philosophy or work and business), but I’m not sure any of those would do me any good if I was stranded. So I think I’d pick The Ultimate Survival Guide by John Wiseman.
  • Music: Ugh, this is a toughy…especially because I have a pretty wide range of taste when it comes to music, and what I listen to largely depends on my mood. But if I had to pick one specific album, it may have to be the Ramones “All This Stuff and More” Vol 1.
  • Something Else?: A Swiss Army knife.

Is there a featured product right now?

We just released some new over-the-zipper print hoodies that are fantastic (thanks to Threadbird!).  And on Friday October 29 we will be releasing 6 brand new designs that are some of our best yet!

Is there a sale going on or a possible Coupon code we can give out with the feature?

Sure, customers can use THREADBIRD10 for 10% off their next order. Expires 12.31.10.

Thanks Ben!

Below are just a few shirts from Fright-Rags, be sure to check out the rest right now!