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Global Tees co-founders Bryan Simpson, left, and Andrew Bordelon sport examples of their Five Pound Apparel line they hope to launch in December.
Global Tees co-founders Bryan Simpson, left, and Andrew Bordelon sport examples of their Five Pound Apparel line they hope to launch in December.

Startups with a Social Conscience

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At first thought, T-shirts and peanut butter aren’t a natural pairing. Yet the co-founders of Global Tees LLC think of both on a daily basis.

In April, brothers Bryan and Matt Simpson and Andrew Bordelon formed Global Tees, which serves as the umbrella for GT Screenprinting. A sister company, Five Pound Apparel retail store and clothing line is set to launch in December. The commonality between GT
Screenprinting and Five Pound Apparel is that the business model of each includes the donation of a portion of every purchase to NepalNutrition, a nonprofit under the umbrella of New York-based Himalayan HealthCare Inc.

The Global Tees co-founders knew they wanted to start a for-profit business that would raise money for a humanitarian cause, similar to Santa Monica, Calif.-based Toms Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes for every pair purchased, Bryan Simpson said. The trio was aware of NepalNutrition because Bryan Simpson attended Kickapoo High School with its founder, Mark Arnoldy. NepalNutrition provides a peanut butter-based supplement to malnourished children in Nepal.

“It’s basically a little packet (with) a couple of ounces of a fortified peanut butter treatment they feed to the children with every meal,” said Simpson, adding that the treatments last for several weeks and replace expensive hospital visits. “For our screen-printing business, for every T-shirt we sell, we donate one of these nutritional treatments.”

The donation comes to roughly 34 cents per T-shirt, he said, adding that with an average T-shirt price of $5, the company is donating nearly 14 percent of its profits to
NepalNutrition. Because Five Pound Apparel’s clothing line will have higher price points, with T-shirts above $20, the donation will be 5 pounds of peanut butter product – a week’s worth of supplements – per clothing item purchased, he said.

During its first full quarter ending in September, GT Screenprinting recorded about $10,000 in sales and donated 1,000 treatments, Simpson said. The company is targeting another 3,000 treatments to donate by year-end.

Sales were more than the partners projected in April, when each of the owners kicked in $1,000 to purchase a manual screen press and about six screens.

Running the business is balanced with other responsibilities. Bryan Simpson is a senior at
Missouri State University and focuses on business aspects such as accounting, legal and advertising; Bordelon, a graduate assistant for Drury’s men’s soccer team, is pursuing a master’s in secondary education and focuses on sales; and Matt Simpson, a professor in Nashville, Tenn., handles the company’s Web design and maintenance.

Branching out
GT Screenprinting has been printing T-shirts out of the house where Bryan Simpson and Bordelon live as roommates, but a permanent location may be opening soon. Simpson said his parents, Don and Olivia Simpson, are under contract to purchase a 3,600-square-foot building at 412 South Ave., with an expected closing Oct. 29.

Global Tees plans to lease the 1,800-square-foot ground floor, Simpson said, noting lease terms haven’t been finalized. Jack Ball & Associates Architects PC and general contractor MoDoCo Inc. are under contract to renovate the building at an estimated cost of $150,000, including a loft apartment, he added. The business owners are pursuing a $25,000 small-business loan through the city of Springfield, he said.

If all goes as planned, Five Pound Apparel would open on South Avenue by Dec. 1, Simpson said, noting the store will carry primarily Five Pounds clothing – based on designs donated by local artists and students – supplemented by lines of similar-minded clothing and accessory designers. The hope is to carry Toms Shoes, he said, but the store hasn’t secured a commitment from the company. Other companies that have agreed to allow Five Pounds to carry its products are Feed Projects, which sells bags to help feed hungry children, and
OmniPeace, which donates to charitable causes 25 percent of its net profits from its clothing and accessories.

A new consciousness
Mary Ann Wood, director of public affairs support at Missouri State University, was one of Global Tees’ first customers, purchasing roughly 50 shirts for MSU’s Public Affairs Academy, she said.

“I fell in love with their way of doing business, and by donating some of their profits to charity, that fits our public affairs mission,” she said.

Wood and colleague Candace Fisk, director of the Missouri State Public Affairs Academy, have been keeping a mental tally of businesses who include humanitarian aid in their business models, she said, noting that recently opened Fria Frozen Yogurt Bar, 301 Park Central West, donates 25 cents per purchase to nonprofit Dusty Feet, which aims, in part, to fight human trafficking.

Owner Caleb Purdy said the charitable tie-in was part of his business plan, and Fria has raised roughly $375 for Dusty Feet in its first five weeks. Instead of putting that money toward traditional advertising, he said, he’ll rely on the charitable organizations to help promote the business. Purdy expects to continue the relationship with Dusty Feet for six months and then choose a new cause to work with every three months.

Five Pounds Apparel’s Bordelon said he’s noticed other retailers in Springfield are supporting charitable causes as well – this month, he said, many are supporting breast cancer research.

“I think this is an up-and-coming part of the business world,” he said. “I want to believe because it’s a lot of people want to do good.”[[In-content Ad]]


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