stripedshirt KickSTOPPER

26 May

striped-shirt-logoWell Striped Supporters, the jig is up!

After 5 years of trying to get stripedshirt to take off, I’m giving up.  But in true Laura fashion, I wanted to do so with some flare and with a very public admission of defeat.

A few weeks ago, over dinner with friends, we hatched this idea of doing a stripedshirt KickSTOPPER.

And then, at lunch with another friend, we kept rolling with the idea and doing a video of my IndieNoGo.

I knew the vision of the video immediately: it is modeled after the brilliance I think is Mike and the launch of the Dollar Shave Club 3 years ago.  I’m no Mike (and knew I couldn’t swear since I wanted kids to watch the video!), but I thought we could do something in the same spirit.  Something cute, funny, short and sweet, and brutally honest.

And so, here today is the unveiling of the video for the stripedshirt KickSTOPPER.  It’s real, it’s true, you can really get 50% off your order at www.stripedshirt.com just by entering “kickstopper” at the coupon code at check out.  It is deliberately a very public – and hopefully funny – way for me to tell the world stripedshirt failed.

Why?

I think of it kind of like a relationship.  Until you tell all your friends your boyfriend broke up with you, they are going to keep asking about him every time they see you.  Everyone asks me “how are the stripes?”  Now I can just point them to YouTube!

I’m also doing this because I gave stripedshirt 5 years and I’m quite proud of that effort.  Being an entrepreneur is really hard, and there is no shame in the fact this business didn’t fly.  We are always talking about businesses launching, about start ups.  We rarely talk about shut downs!

Now I am, with the world’s first real Kickstopper campaign, and a rare public admission of a failed business.  Check out the video, and if you like it, pass it on!  (Cause it wouldn’t hurt if I sold a few more shirts!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aP_KBl9sWmk

Thank you so much for all the support and encouragement along the way these past 5 years.  It is beyond appreciated!

(please no lawsuits, Kickstarter or Indiegogo, all I got to give for a settlement is a bunch of stripedshirts!)

Parenting Goal: Raise Two Happy Average Generalists (HAGs)

28 Mar

You read that right.  I want to raise two HAGs.  Happy Average Generalists.   Happy.  Average.  Generalists.   This is my parenting goal.

I’m going public with this goal (and seemingly odd acronym) now because it has come up several times with other parent friends of mine in our chats about the challenge of raising kids, the pressures on them at far too young of ages, our crazy over scheduled lives, and the over stressed peers our kids have with parents who seem only to feed into it all.

As a parent living in the backlash of the Millennial generation of helicopter parents raising kids where “Everyone Gets a Trophy” and teachers fear the critique they’ll get from daring to give a student an A, not an A+, I sincerely hope my generation of parents can do things a little differently and adjust and ratchet it all back a bit.

I hope I’m not alone as a parent who most desperately wants her two daughters to be HAPPY.

Not a prodigy in anything really.  Just confident and comfortable with who they are, undertaking those things that give them joy and smiles, not that might get them a college scholarship or a place on an Olympic team (and a whole lot of stress and pressure to boot).

At our house, school and homework is important, of course, but so are play and imagination and creativity – and candidly – veg time in front of the TV or downtime with a computer game when their minds are only focused on what to dress their digital animated Barbie in or what’s happening on ANT Farm.

We have our share of extra curriculars, of course.  But so far, my girls are a bit like their Mama: dabblers, generalists.  And honestly, average at best in their skills and abilities.  We aren’t seeing any glimmers of unique, exceptional talents.  And that’s AOK by me.  It’s honestly preferred.  Average Generalists.  Happy ones!

I feel this way for two reasons.

First, from working with a generation so driven and ambitious, so singularly focused, perhaps also a bit entitled and just a bit of a challenge for bosses and managers.  (for more, read: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html  BOY do I know Lucy!)  Millennials come by this naturally, they were raised by helicopter parents who wanted and accepted only the very best for them.  Seems like the absolute spot-on approach to parenting, right?

Nope.  This approach disserved those kids.  With them never hearing no, never feeling they weren’t absolutely fantastic, they never:

  • Knew failure, felt defeat, thought about why they didn’t do well in a sport or on a test, and then accept it, be OK with it, brush it off and move on
  • Acknowledged and realized not everyone can be great in everything, and some things you so deeply want to do may just not happen, or may be such a struggle it’s not worth pursuing for the pain.
  • Felt disappointment in their own shortcoming but at the same time celebrated the friend who beat them, were proud of and happy for that peer, not jealous or resentful.

These are all critical life skills.  Sometimes experiences and moments that will break your heart watching your child go through them, but will make them stronger later.

The second reason I’m so pro Happy Average Generalist is, turns out, I was an Early Pioneer HAG.  Whether because of me, or my Mom, or likely a combination, in my childhood, I dabbled.  I played piano, flute, piccolo, tuba (true dat!), none exceptionally well.  I took classes in pottery, weaving, puppet making, cooking, painting, even Mime – yes Mime.  I was OK at all, not bad, but surely not great.  I was a 4th grader a full foot taller than my 1st grade peers in a beginners ballet class.  And I saw that class through, all the way to the Lotus Blossom recital where I’m certain my mile high long lanky legs compared to my tiny classmates was comedy for the audience.  I was a cheerleader only in the 6th grade because it was the year they did try outs based on grades.  I played on the 7th grade volleyball team when I was in the 8th grade because they needed a sub on the bench.  And though I was president of the student council in 8th grade, when I moved to a brand new city and high school, I ran for student council every year, and lost, not getting voted in until my Senior year.

I’m sure sometimes these experiences, and being so average, never excelling, brought on tears from me and a broken heart from my Mom.  But I think they all contributed to raising me to be extremely (almost to a fault, some might say!) confident and comfortable with who I am – goods and bads.  I take on things that give me joy.  I’m happy.  I’m a HAG.

With 9 year old and 5 year old aspiring HAGs of my own now, I’m sharing these thoughts to see if other parents agree with this approach, if maybe we can all give our kids a break and cut ourselves some slack and ease up on this Millennial Generation path we might still be taking.

My timing for this reflection is triggered because this very week, my oldest dropped out of Hip Hop because her schedule would make her miss several classes, which wouldn’t be fair to her classmates when it came to recital time.  And after 9 months of lessons, she also quit piano because her kind, insightful teacher coached her out, seeing it just wasn’t in her heart, and she wasn’t improving.  But the same 9 year old celebrated 2 kickball team wins in a row after a season last year where her team had only 1 win the entire season.  Some defeats, some victories.  That’s life right?

Both girls brought home report cards this week where they improved in some things, and went down slightly in others.  Overall, great report cards we are very proud of.  But we didn’t excessively celebrate them, nor challenge the teachers on any of their decisions about our daughter’s performances.  And we certainly didn’t give out any trophies!

So, what do you think?  Do you think my husband and I are hurting – or helping – our girls by not pushing them to be prodigies in anything at all, and rather hoping they are simply Happy Average Generalists?

Medals

Happy Birthday Breton Stripes!

27 Mar

It’s International Striped Shirt Day!

Today, March 27, marks the “birth” of the beautiful Breton stripe. Those smart Frenchies made the iconic navy and white striped knit shirt the official uniform for all navy seamen in Brittany.  This became official in the March 27, 1858 Act of France.

And so, today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my beloved navy and white Breton stripes!  You look pretty darn good for a 156 year old! You have been worn by so many, and inspired so many other stripes.

Including stripedshirt!  We built our whole business on stripes, and the idea that colors can represent what matters to you – your team, your school, your cause, a holiday, or just to channel your inner Coco Chanel.   Stripedshirt is fan-wear for women, kids and babies.  Now is an ideal time to get your navy and white, or any colors, to stripe it up for Spring and Summer!  Show Your Colors!

Merci, France, and Bon Anniversaire Breton Stripes!

French Sailor

Breton stripes for Moms and kids

Breton stripes for Moms and kids

Sample of stripe combos from stripesdhirt

Sample of stripe combos from stripesdhirt

 

Sweet STRIPED Sixteen

25 Mar

Oh, how I love March Madness!  And those first four days are always such a ride.  How about those Dayton Flyers?  Crazy!  And Syracuse, Kansas, Duke all out so early – wow!   And how mean to match up Kentucky v. Louisville for the Sweet Sixteen!

Now, we are down to just 16 teams, and of course, stripedshirt has colors for all (except UCLA, what is up with light blue and yellow???)  Who are you picking to go all the way to Dallas on April 7?

Me?  Who doesn’t love a Cinderella.  I’m Flyers all the way!  Whoever your team, get a stripedshirt to Show Your Colors for your next game, for always!  http://stripedshirt.com/

University of Dayton Flyers colors

University of Dayton Flyers colors

Line up for Thurs, March 27:

Line up for Fri, March 28:

 

Tears for Ellsbury; Red Sox Stripes That Won’t Ever Make You Cry

4 Dec

People often ask me how and why I started stripedshirt.   I always say because I’m a sports fan and I wanted to be able to wear a great shirt to cheer on my teams, without a big logo on the front, or a guy’s name on the back who would just get traded next year.

Well, last night proved that out and then some.  TEARS, huge tears.  For 7 years, my favorite Red Sox has been Jacoby Ellsbury, out of the minors on fire, called up to the Sox the same year Pedroia was a rookie, but mid season so they each got rookie of the year credit, 2 years in a row.  Jacoby is an amazing outfielder, great batter, and an even better base stealer – 52 bases in 56 tries last season.  A magical baseball moment in my life was watching as he stole HOME against the Yankees a few years ago.  And the boy is darn cute.

Well, last night, he went to the dark side, signing a seven year contract with the Evil Yankees, worth $153 million.  Third richest outfielder contract in MLB history.

And THIS my friends is a big reason I started stripedshirt.  Millions (OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration) of #2 fans out there are currently burning their Ellsbury Sox shirts.   And while I’m more upset than when my favorite “Idiot” Johnny Damon made a similar move right after the 04 World Series, my shirts are safe!  No Ellsbury name on my back.  Just cute, fun, fashionable red and blue stripes for the Red Sox I still adore, and no love to the former outfielder who is now dead to me.

 

Red Sox stripes

Get a stripedshirt now for your favorite teams to know you’ll always be safe even if Ray goes to the Heat or  Peyton gets cut from the Colts or the unthinkable happens and your darling favorite baseball player turns traitor after 7 years of you cheering him on.

Three Years of Stripes: Learnings and a stripedshirt Sale

24 Nov

garnet and gold stripes for FSU This week marks the official 3 year anniversary of stripedshirt (3 years since we started selling shirts).  What a wild ride!  Learning so many brand new things, about the apparel and fashion business, and etail and building ecommerce websites.  Going from concept to actual shirts in 6 months was a blur!  Lightening fast, so much learned and done from design to pattern and sample making, grading, sourcing, color testing, thread count, fabric manufacturing, shirt production ….. all in the blink of an eye in the fashion world.

The 3 years since has been a bit of a slow trudge of selling shirts and putting blood, sweat and tears into trying to get stripedshirt into the mainstream.  I still love and believe in the business, but boy, “if you build it, they will not necessarily come!”

You gotta work hard to build your brand, and turn awareness and interest, into sales.   And you need a lot of good timing and luck.  The fashion business is hard.  And fickle.  And expensive.  Even great response and interest and feedback, including beautiful photo spreads styling stripedshirts by prominent fashion and lifestyle bloggers, only gets you great search results in Google and a nice fan base on Twitter.

And after doing PR for countless brands and companies in my 20+ years in the PR business, I now also know personally what I’ve counseled many on:  PR does not translate directly into sales.  It is air cover for sales, it creates awareness that makes the selling process easier and faster.  But you still gotta sell, sell, sell!

After 3 years of hustling, I also believe in apparel, its not just selling a fun, unique product people like that is priced well, has periodic discounts and sales, is easy and fast to purchase with fast delivery.  In fashion, there also needs to be that magic moment, that tipping point.

We haven’t had ours yet.  If only Taylor Swift would make stripedshirts just one of her many stripes!  Or Louis Tomlinson would go back to wearing stripes. :)  Or Where’s Waldo would become a cool everyday look more than just Halloween.

I won’t give up, I’ll keep plugging and will not be discouraged by the reality that stripedshirt is a fashion brand, which is all about timing and trend.  Hoping for my own tipping point in year four!   Wish me luck and thank you to all who have supported stripedshirt so far!

To show my thanks for the support over the years, please use the code 3YEARS at check out for 25% all orders from now through Saturday Dec 7.

Taylor Swift in red and white stripes

These are a few of my favorite (Trader Joe’s) things!

30 Sep

With the Austin Trader Joe’s now open for 10 happy days, at the request of a friend,  here is a list of my TJ favorites (keeping in mind, I’m an East Coast girl, and long time TJ’s lover and devotee, as in as long as to remember when the 2 Buck Chuck was really 2 bucks!)

These are the things I seek out and many of which I used to binge eat or purchase and transport on my trips to cities with TJs. Now, I can get them in my own hometown!  BLISS!  Try em and see what you think:

Pound Plus bittersweet chocolate bar with almonds.  A square of this is how I start every morning.  I’m serious.  Like a coffee or cigarette addict, this Mama is the walking wounded til one square of this amazement is in my body.  And now I don’t have to hoard or ration as much.

Savory Thin Mini Crackers.  They have bigger sized too but I love these mini guys, dipped in hummus, bean dip, Greek yogurt dip (more on these below).  These are rice and sesame based, so ideally gluten free and ideally not so bad for you.  And they are a wayyy cheaper replacement to the Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins I got hooked on.

The rest of the items won’t get as many call outs, superlatives.  These two are just very close to my heart!

  • Any of TJ’s hummus
  • Especially the White Bean hummus
  • Mediterranean Greek Yogurt Dip
  • Any prepared salads, esp. Vegetable and Grain Country Salad
  • Wasabi Peas
  • Blue corn tortilla chips
  • Veggie sticks potato snacks
  • Sea Salt Butterscotch caramels
  • Speculoos cookies – SOOOO good, and addictive
  • Any trail mix, I esp love the Tempting one with nuts, raisins, chocolate chips AND peanut butter chips
  • I haven’t done as much of the frozen foods as I will be now, too hard to transport on a plane back to TX from CA or Mass.  But I love those I’ve had:  Channa Masala, Chicken Tikka Masala, Aloo Chaat.

If you want to know a little history, the company started in 1967 with a store in Pasadena, CA, still there today.  They started pushing their re-usable bags in 1977 – very early recyclers!  They didn’t expand out of CA until 1993, and the first East Coast store was opened in 1997, in Boston, in Brookline, where a certain ME shopped!

If you haven’t yet, check out TJ’s website, http://www.traderjoes.com/, its pretty funny and unique with a lot more product recs than mine.  This is just a cool company I love.  They don’t put a lot of money into advertising or marketing, or fliers.  Its mostly all word of mouth from zealots like me!   Now, if I could just get them to shift from the iconic Hawaiian shirt (started in 1968) to stripedshirts…..

Get thee to our Trader Joe’s, fellow ATXers, it’s worth the trip!

 

15 Signs I’m Closer to 50 than to 25

28 Sep

I’m in my car driving to a meeting Friday and NPR was on, like it has been since the day of the Boston Marathon bombing.  It may have taken me until I was 42 to get on board, but I’m addicted.  I love NPR.  Both calming and informing.

Yet it hit me, holy cow, listening to NPR?  Another sign I’m closer to 50 than to 25.  And it prompted me - at 9 pm on a Saturday night, home on the couch watching season 2 of Homeland – to put together My List of 15 Signs I’m Closer to 50 than to 25:

  • I listen to NPR in the car.
  • I think any time after 8 am is totally sleeping in.
  • I think any time after midnight is totally staying up late.
  • I can only handle going to bars with seats, and food.
  • I will talk with people about the weather and be concerned about what the lack of rain is doing to my yard and flower beds.
  • I have a yard and flower beds.
  • I think about my scarf, hat and boots more in terms of staying warm than looking cute.
  • I keep my schedule on a physical calendar, not my smart phone or Google calendar.
  • I go outside my house in my pajamas, for longer than running to pick up the newspaper.
  • I subscribe to the newspaper.
  • My husband and I will have a night free of our kids, go to dinner and still be home before 9 pm.
  • A lot of times, in that restaurant, I feel it’s too loud.
  • And if I have even 3 drinks in a rare night out, I feel it the next morning.  3 drinks.  Geez, a far cry from my BC days.
  • I look at the 25 year olds out and am so happy I grew up when the Nirvana and Pearl Jam look was cool, not these micro mini dresses and stilettos.
  • I hope and pray that grunge look comes back into vogue by the time my daughters are going out.  Or that somehow dressing Amish becomes very cool.

What about you my fellow 40-somethings?  Have you also left your 20 year old self far behind?  What are your signs?

Stripe Up for International Talk Like A Pirate Day!

19 Sep

Every year for 11 years now, some people out there in the world have celebrated International Talk Like A Pirate Day on September 19.  Of course stripedshirt will get on board (get it, on board, the ship, the pirate ship?!).  This is another perfect day to wear stripes.  Our black and red traditional pirate stripes, of course, or more nautical sailor type preppy pirates, in our red and white or navy and white.

But, if we are going to try to make the most of yet another stripe-wearing day, least we can do is share how this all came to be……

Turns out there are 2 guys, John Baur and Mark Summers, who on June 6, 1995, just started yelling pirate-like encouragement to each other on the racquetball court (not in a bar, as you’d expect).   The silliness got them through the game so quickly and painlessly they figured the rest of the world needed a Talk Like A Pirate day. But they couldn’t take June 6, that’s WWII D-Day.  So, weirdly, but true story, they took Sept 19 because it was one of their ex-wife’s birthdays.

So truly, we should be celebrating 18 years of International Talk Like A Pirate Day.  Except for no one but these two, and their friend Brian, cared, until the power of the press came into play.  It took 7 years of the guys Talking Pirate to just each other on Sept 19, before they finally reached out to their chosen national spokesman, Dave Barry.  One email, Dave dug the idea, wrote about it, and off we go!  Here’s the official site, and the full history.

And so today: Stripe Up, Matey, or Ye Be Walking the Plank!

And some other pirate words.

And a big ARRRR and thank you to John, Mark, and Dave Barry for giving us another reason to peddle our stripes!

 

Red and white pirate stripedshirt

 

pirate striped shirt

Welcome to Week 2 of 12: What Are Your Favorite College Football Traditions?

6 Sep

Why do we love College Football so darn much?  For a million different reasons, hundreds of which are awesome, inspiring, and sometimes weird traditions in place forever, some since the 1800s.  First, are my favorites, then a list of others, with some help and inspiration from MSN.  I want to know what I missed.

What great traditions does your favorite school have?

BOSTON COLLEGE!

As a proud alum of my beloved – and beleaguered – Boston College, I love that, soon after we graduated in 93, the stands started filling with hundreds of Super Fan shirts in bright (awful, but spirited) yellow.  The band plays Bruce Channel’s “Hey Baby” (better known as that song from Dirty Dancing) and the crowd sings the refrain.  And “foreva” the fans have yelled “We Ahhhh BC” in our best Boston accents.  #WeAreBC

OHIO STATE!

Spending my high school years in Columbus OH, I became an Ohio State fan.  Of course, we have Horseshoe (or The Shoe), and arguably the biggest rivalry in college football with the annual match up against Michigan, almost always the last regular game of the season.  If the Buckeyes win, the players get a coveted Gold Pants charm, given since 1934, and causing all that controversy in 2011.  Since 1968, OSU players get awarded Buckeye leaves for their helmet for big plays and TBDBITL (the best damn band in the land) has spelled out Script Ohio with the tuba dotting the “I” since the 1930’s.  Of course, the crowd cheers back and forth “O-H” and “I-O” through out the game, and the band plays “Hang On Sloopy,” the official Ohio state rock song, at the start of the 4th quarter.  I didn’t think anything could beat the Buckeye traditions……

TEXAS!
……until I moved to Austin and went to my first Longhorns game!  Holy cow!  The stadium of over 100,000 fans is electric the entire game, with so many traditions, everywhere you look.  From Bevo himself, mascot since 1916, to Old Smokey, the cannon that goes off after Texas scores.  Big Bertha, the huge drum, sits at visiting team’s entrance, and marks each point Texas scored.  One side of the stadium yells “Texas” and the other responds with “Fight.”  The crowd sings The Eyes of Texas, holding up their “Hook Em Horns” hand sign, created in 1955.  The Cotton Bowl in Dallas hosts the annual Red River Shootout match up against Oklahoma, on “neutral” ground.  And when Texas wins, the top of the Tower is lit orange.

Some other fun college traditions include:

  • Perhaps my favorite – just because I too love the song – in Wisconsin, since 1998, at the end of the 3rd quarter, Badger fans have jammed to “Jump Around” by House of Pain (1992 hit, smack in the midst of my college glory days)
  • Nebraska Cornhuskers entering Memorial Stadium through the Tunnel Walk, since 1994.
  • Miami Hurricanes taking the field a cloud of smoke, done since the 1950s.
  • West Virginia fans singing Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver before each game since 1972.
  • Since 1954, Texas Tech’s Red Raider team is led onto the field by a Masked Rider on horseback.
  • Arkansas Razorbacks have had a Hog Call since the 1920’s
  • Michigan’s Big House is one of the largest, and loudest stadiums, and a cool want to watch a game, almost sunken below ground level.
  • Penn State does the best white out with more than 110,000 Nittany Lions all in white. (I’d prefer if they were all wearing navy and white stripes)
  • Even though they are the Auburn Tigers, since 1892 and their first meet with Georgia, War Eagle has been their battle cry.
  • Colorado has their live buffalo mascot do his Ralphie Run, circling Folsom Field, at the start of each half, since 1967
  • Texas A&M has done a Midnight Yell with thousands gathered at Kyle Field the night before each home game to cheer on the Aggies.  The first official yell was in 1931 before a game against, who else, the Texas Longhorns.
  • Three schools claim they were the first to have homecoming, Baylor in 1909, Illinois in 1910 and Missouri in 1911.
  • And begrudgingly I have to note Notre Dame with its Touchdown Jesus
  • As a bonus, even though its not college, and not even a real football team, who can’t love the Friday Night Lights players chanting Clear Eyes.  Full Hearts. Can’t Lose. And touching Jason Street’s name on the wall on the way out to play.

So what fun traditions did I miss?  What do you love best about your team’s football games?  (Is it the great stripedshirts in the stands?? I thought so!)  Please share other fun traditions on our stripedshirt Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stripedshirtz  Or email them to me at laura@stripedshirt.com and I’ll add them to this post!

kid college football fans

 

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