Memoirs of a Sweatshirt

Josh got a Calhoun Creek sweatshirt from a high school best bud.  It was his favorite sweatshirt.  But, as fate would have it, the day he broke up with the last girlfriend before me she was wearing this favorite sweatshirt.  A few years later, with my encouragement, he finally inquired about getting the sweatshirt back.  Said ex-girlfriend replied harshly that she ditched the thing almost immediately after the break up.  Josh was heart broken twofold:  the nasty message rattled him and his favorite sweatshirt was lost.

I resolved to recover his sweatshirt.  For over a year I periodically scoured the internet for a “Calhoun Creek Abercrombie hoodie.”  One time I found one that had just sold on Ebay.  My hope was renewed but to no avail, after that point the best I could find was a tiny thumbnail image of the sweatshirt on Google images.

My last-ditch effort was a call to Abercrombie itself.  I hoped beyond hope that somehow there was a backlog of old merchandise buried somewhere in their storehouse.  I called customer service and talked with the sweetest black lady.  When she answered the other line I dished out my tale of trying to locate my husband’s favorite sweatshirt.  She replied that they don’t keep old merchandise anywhere but was desperate to help my cause.  After a little brainstorming we proceeded to sift through all their current merchandise over the phone together. Our new goal was to help me find the next best thing:  a plain sweatshirt I could transform into the Calhoun Creek sweatshirt.

Step 1:  buy a plain Abercrombie sweatshirt.

There is nothing quite like an Abercrombie sweatshirt.  I used to hate the company for their constant play at sex, but this project made me discover just how great their clothes are.  Their sweatshirts are impossibly soft and warm.  So, if I was going to recreate one of their sweatshirt designs I was going to have to start with one of their sweatshirts.

When I was on the phone with my Abercrombie friend we located the closest thing in color and concept to what the original Calhoun Creek sweatshirt was.  I purchased a navy blue hoodie with next to no insignia on it (friends, Abercrombie loves insignia so this was a feat in and of itself.)

Step 2:  recreate the Calhoun Creek insignia.

I can fake my way through graphic design.  But for a project like this I new I would be reaching well beyond my scope.  After a short brainstorming session I messaged our friend Josh to enlist his designer skills.  I plead my case, telling the sad tale of the lost sweatshirt once again.  He was immediately on board and excited to help me bring this clothing favorite back to life.  His design was what I hoped for and more!  Not only did he recreate the design beautifully from the saddest scrap of digital data in the history of images (remember that tiny thumbnail I mentioned?) but he added some personal flavor as well.  In the end we had a perfect recreation of the graphics including Josh’s birth year and an icon of Wisconsin (Josh is Wisconsin’s number one fan).

Step 3:  locate a printer.

Citizen Way, the band Josh is a part of, works with a company called FutureShirts for their t-shirt needs.  I know all of Josh’s passwords so I snuck onto his email to glean some contact information.  Soon thereafter I was connected with Jordan.  I told my sweatshirt tale again and asked her if, by chance, FutureShirts would be able and willing to print my design on my Abercrombie sweatshirt.

For those of you who don’t know about printing on shirts, it is easy to do either one of the following:  buy one shirt and iron on a design yourself and buy a one-time design from a company using their line of shirt options.  But to ask a company print your custom graphic on a shirt you’ve already purchased is asking for a miracle.

None-the-less, Jordan was passionate about my project immediately just like everyone else I plead my case to.  She told me she was going to look into it and get back to me.  At the end of the day I received a return phone call, she said she combed through all the logistics and that she could feasibly help me but would be mortified to have to tell me what it would cost me.   I told her I completely understood but wanted to start with them since they already have a relationship with Josh.  She fervently wished me luck and gave me some recommendations for how and where to hunt for a printer to fulfill my needs.

I poured my search efforts into the internet and came up with exactly nothing.  I found some companies that looked like they could hold potential but none that I even felt confident enough about to even start with a phone call.  After exhausting my search efforts I sat, staring blankly at my computer screen for several minutes.  Finally another idea popped into my head and I called the company I use for all my a Sunshine Moment printing needs (Proforma Synergy Graphics in East Dundee, IL).  Turns out, my timing was perfectly wrong; my contact, Kurt, had struck up an illness that had him in and out of the hospital for a week or so.  When he finally was on the road to recovery I received an email with a couple options: a quote on what it would cost for me to run the project through their company and the timeline it would take them and a phone number of another company that could do it quicker and possibly cheaper.  I called the other company in order to better know all my options.  My initial contact was less than promising, the woman on the other line indicated they probably wouldn’t do a project like this but that she would gather the information for me anyway.  She called back and I expected more sour news but in the end her answer was that they could do it and her quote wasn’t too terrible!  Next thing I knew I was sending a check and my sweatshirt to this company.

A week later it came back to me and I excitedly presented my project to Josh for his birthday.  Much to my excitement, he loved it as I hoped he would!

Moral of the story:  you never know what you can achieve until you ask!  I was amazed at the willingness and enthusiasm from friends and strangers alike as I pursued this project.

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