In the beginning…
I have always been an “artsy-fartsy” kind of guy. Growing up, my mom and dad were always happy to provide my sister and I with all the art supplies we could ever dream of. My earliest memories are the morning trips to the local store for a box of watercolor paints and a bag of by-the-pound Tootsie Rolls (not the small ones, but the big fat ones…the awesome ones!) Afternoons would be spent painting away on discarded computer paper. If you remember this paper from the 80s, it was about “11×17” with holes on either end, had all green lines and printing on one side, but was completely white on the other. While many saw garbage, I saw a blank canvas awaiting my brush and imagination to take hold. I would go through a whole box of paints in one sitting.
Later as a grade schooler, I would find joy in designing t-shirts that I actually wore to school. Usually, these were images I transferred and colored onto white t-shirts of my favorite cartoon, the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”. I was just tickled at the thought of being able to make a shirt that looked exactly how I wanted, not just what the store said everyone should have. Later in high school, I had the opportunity to design the class shirt in Mr. Lahlum’s Geometry class. It was so cool seeing so many people wearing a shirt I designed. I think this is where the T-Squared seeds were planted.
After college and grad school, I was looking for something more than just my routine day job. I had thrown around a couple of business ideas in my head, but none ever gained the traction. Then one day we were watching Mike Rowe’s Dirty Jobs, and they had a segment where he visited a t-shirt printing factory in Hawai’i, making the local tourist shirts.
“Hmmm, that’s kinda cool”.
I took to YouTube to check out what kind of things people were doing with screen printing. Almost immediately I was taken in by the world of apparel decorating, the technique, the art…I was hooked. Just like my parents, always happy to provide the art supplies we needed for that new project, my wife, Meghan gladly supported me.
After I had the equipment delivered, I landed my first printing job that evening before I even had the equipment unpacked. I stopped by a local fabric store Mill Ends in Fargo, ND to get some t-shirt-like fabric to practice on. Always the chatty type, I told my fabric cutter I was getting this fabric to screen print on, hoping to impress her. “Where is your business”, she inquired. Surprised by this inquiry, I responded not-so-jokingly that is was still in boxes, piled in the back seat of my car. She went on to say she was responsible for organizing the office shirt, and figured if a screen printer happened to fall in her lap, well that was all the less work she would have to do. After a couple of meetings and discussions, I completed the first official order as T-Squared. The shirts were a hit and I was blessed to make multiple repeat orders.
I continued to research the business and art of screen printing and apparel decoration, testing and perfecting many techniques. I reinvested all my profits into the business and have grown my original one room operation into a printing studio that now takes up the entire basement and part of the upstairs of our North Moorhead home. With the growing success of the T-Squared, Meghan now works full time for the business.
We have been blessed with many wonderful clients, each bringing a new story with their shirt order. These stories have been the unexpected joy in this business venture. We look forward to that next story and the opportunity to help you tell it through the best medium we know: the T-shirt!
…and the name, T-Squared?
We have Meghan, to thank for the name of T-Squared…
When I started out, I could not figure out a name for our business. Sure, I had a couple of ideas, but nothing REALLY good. Then Meghan suggested out of the blue, “why not T-Squared?”. As a Mathematics Major at Concordia College in 2003, the first image that popped into my head was “t²”.
I replied, “that would make a catchy logo, but why T-Squared?”
“Well, Thompsen…T-Shirts…T-T… T-Squared…”, calculated Meghan.
It was perfect! And so began, T-Squared.