Back in 2010 we (Lucy & Tom) started our little t-shirt brand. We called in ‘My Tee’. We bought some 2nd hand screen printing equipment, set it up in our dining room & armed with 10 minutes of YouTube knowledge we started putting Lucy’s designs onto t-shirts.
We had a couple of stalls at little markets & were flattered & surprised when people actually bought our t-shirts, & better yet told us how much they loved the designs!
Without giving it a second’s thought, we hired a van, moved to Manchester and opened a little shop in Afleck’s Palace.
We rented a tiny mouse infested flat (the kitchen was so small we had to keep the fridge in the bedroom!) The shop brought in enough money to pay for itself... just... but the awesome feedback that we got from our customers was enough to keep us going. We noticed that the t-shirts with bear designs on were our best sellers, so we changed our name to ‘Don’t Feed the Bears’ (we were under no illusion that ‘My Tee’ was a good name) & began producing more bear designs.
After a year, the shop was still not making enough to pay us any kind of wage & we thought that was the end of our little venture. We closed the shop & moved back to Sheffield without any kind of a plan. Earlier in the year we’d applied to trade at the Manchester Christmas Market - & used all of our money to pay for the pitch (£3,600 as I remember all too clearly). So, we decided to give ‘Don’t Feed the Bears’ one last big push. The next month the Manchester Christmas Market began. It was unreal! Having so many people seeing our t-shirts was like being on a retail rocket! We worked 24-7 for the 40 days the market was on & by the time we got to Christmas it was clear - the Bears were here to stay.
10 years & two kids later & we’re happy to say that we still do everything ourselves - design, print, package, photograph & everything else that makes up our beary business. Now though, every week our t-shirts are sent all over the world. They’ve been spotted on TV, talked about on BBC radio seen in magazines & newspapers & nothing gives us a bigger buzz than walking past someone in the street wearing a Don’t Feed the Bears t-shirt (or jumper... we’re not prejudiced!)