We can’t accurately talk about the beginning unless we go way back. Back before the days of 100+ shows a year, thousands of shirts printing a month, 2 locations, 3 trucks, and over 20 team members.
You know how in every classic novel there is always the pivotal moment in the main character’s life? For Justin and Dana that was 2009 with the birth of their son, Gunner. After a few weeks at home and an eventful visit to the pumpkin patch, Gunner became critically ill. He took a life flight to Children’s Mercy Hospital where he had open heart surgery, required ECMO and weeks of sleepless nights in the PICU. On one particularly hard and late night, Justin looked across the tiny infant hospital isolette and told Dana that when they all survived this - they would spend the rest of their lives doing what they loved. Once Gunner was released they started building a life they loved and even welcomed another child, a daughter (Jetlyn) in 2014.
Dana quit her receptionist job for nursing school, achieving her dream of becoming an ICU nurse which she enjoyed for 8 years. Justin decided in 2011 (in the thick of Dana’s nursing school years) to start a screen printing company. It was the ultimate step of faith for the both of them. But they honored their promise to chase their dreams the rest of their lives and God provided.
The screen printing began September of 2011 in a damp basement and hot garage full of ambition and hope. Justin worked his Schwan’s job 10-12 hours a day and washed screens and printed every night and on the weekend. Eventually the business expanded to a building in Newton, KS and has steadily grown to what it is today.
The basement where it all began 2011.
2 year old Gunner learning to screen print in the garage.
In 2016, longtime production manager Lena and Justin attended a local Vintage Market Days event in Wichita, KS which sparked the idea to create an online graphic tee boutique. With Lena’s creativity and dedication The Graphic Tee has experienced incredible growth and expanded to carry many boutique clothing items to perfectly compliment the original and unique graphic tees. In May 2019 Justin, Lena and Dana attended their first major event in Omaha, Nebraska. After a successful show the three decided that the unique event atmosphere was the perfect fit for their vintage inspired graphic tees! They attended 5 more shows that year. Since then, Dana retired from nursing to chase dreams at the rapidly expanding company and now books over 100 shows per year managing multiple teams in their Kansas and Georgia (opened October 2021) brick and mortar locations.
In case you were wondering - they aren’t done dream chasing and have big plans for growth in the future.
Lena, Justin & Dana attend a decorated apparel expo in 2017.
2022 is a year of growth for TGT. They have assembled a dream team of team members whose skill, dedication, and sense of humor are unmatched. It is truly the best team in over a decade of business. Justin, Dana and Lena attended their first wholesale event. They are coming up with their most creative and colorful designs yet and are looking forward to expanding their team and customer base! Cheers to 2022! We can’t wait for you to find your vibe with us!
Lena, Dana and Justin attend their first wholesale market. Dallas Market center 2022.
Past success is no guarantee of future success, so I have learned to be an entrepreneur. I began to produce and direct my own projects. -Ian Ziering