(Site Manager's Note- Happy 901 Day Memphis! This season, one of GBB's focuses in terms of growth is to be a larger part of the Memphis community. Stage one of that comes in the form of "Memphis: Growing Through the Grizzlies", a new series of features that will focus on various businesses and groups that in some way, shape, or form have the Memphis Grizzlies to thank for their development. If you know a business or group that deserves to be a future subject of "Memphis: Growing Through the Grizzlies", be sure to let me know at email@example.com.)
The Memphis t-shirt universe has expanded rapidly in recent years. While walking around Memphis, you will likely see an abundance of locals sporting diverse, 901-themed clothes. Many locally-sprouted companies have concentrated on the Memphis Grizzlies and University of Memphis Tigers, and have had enormous success. It appears the pace of this market will not curb anytime soon, either.
However, according to 901 Collection owners Jonathan and Emily May, there was still a void to be filled. The couple recognized that there was a lack of stylish, more feminine Memphis-themed clothing. Jonathan and Emily wanted to satisfy everyone with high quality clothing that represented Memphis. As a result, they started 901 Collection last September. Their designs are not limited to just the local sports teams, however. Their designs strive to encompass what it means to live in and represent the city of Memphis.
"While of course we have some designs that are inspired by the Grizzlies and Tigers, we also have a lot of non-sports civic pride designs with a gender-neutral feel. There are certainly a few shirts that sell better with one gender or the other, but for the most part we see men and women both buying our designs," Jonathan said.
901 Collection's designs are inspired by Memphis and a sense of civic pride. Their shirts are also made from Comfort Colors, which ensure the highest quality. Also, Comfort Colors shirts are guaranteed to not shrink, so the products stay true to their size.
Amazingly, 901 Collection is run almost entirely by the couple. Jonathan works with the local Memphis Grizzlies blog 3 Shades of Blue and co-hosts their weekly radio show in addition to working as an attorney by day. However, his alter ego is co-owner of 901 Collection with his wife Emily.
"Our guest bedroom has been converted into a ‘fulfillment center' and every night when our kids, Holden and Lucy, go to bed, we head upstairs and get orders packed and shipped," Jonathan said, "The two of us built most of our display pieces and have worked to cultivate a ‘style' for the company. I do most of the design work (with some help when I'm in over my head), order the raw materials, coordinate with our local printer, manage the inventory and website, push our social media campaigns, and handle customer service."
In addition to selling local clothing, 901 Collection is already investing into the Memphis community.
"After a lot of discussion, we decided to support Shelby Farms Park Conservancy, and 10% of all 901 Collection proceeds are donated to help keep SFPC's amazing public resources going! It is such a unique asset for the city, and our family has enjoyed countless hours there, so it is an honor to give back," he explained.
Even with the company's explosive success, the couple is still not slowing down. Jonathan hinted at the possibility of more University of Memphis themed products in the future. "We did a great set of grey/blue shirts with Tennessee on them last fall, both of which were very popular. We plan to bring them back in a few months, along with some new U of M inspired designs. We have also talked about doing limited run designs for groups on campus who want to have their own, exclusive 901 Collection shirt, and we are continuing to talk to groups about doing that in the fall (homecoming, anybody?)"
He and his wife never dreamed of this kind of immediate and obvious success, though.
On that success, Jonathan explained, "We started with 107 shirts when we launched on September 26, 2015. We figured even if it took months, we could sell enough of them to get our investment back and that would be that. We sold almost 80 shirts on day one at BreakFest901, and it has been a whirlwind ever since."
While having a permanent store is not in the immediate future, they hope to accomplish this around 2018. Meanwhile, you can catch 901 Collection at various Memphis festivals and shows, such as the upcoming Best Memphis Burger Festival, Germantown Festival, BreakFest901, Mistletoe Merchants, and Junior League of Memphis's Merry Marketplace. In addition, check out their merchandise online at www.901collection.com. Also, the company will run a special "901 Day" sale, so customers should be on the lookout for that as well!
While the Memphis t-shirt marketplace is exploding, 901 Collection has been making its unique mark through Memphis Grizzlies, and Memphis in general, themed clothing. They have combined civic pride along with a trademark style that sets itself apart from its competitors. A lot of hard work and countless hours have resulted in a dream turning into reality. However, owners Jonathan and Emily May are just getting started. 901 Collection, while being just shy of a year old, is already reaping huge success and investing into the Memphis community.