By Amanda Oskey
Maybe you’ve seen the shirts around that look like they say “I (heart) TX”. But the closer you get to the shirt, you can see that, rather than a heart, you see the shape of the state of Texas.
“I actually thought I had seen the design before, but I searched everywhere and couldn’t find it. I actually made it up on my own,” said Chris Mahler, shirt creator.
“I created the shirt with no meaning, but it seems to have taken on one of it’s own,” he said, “It’s like we Texans think Texas is so great that we don’t need to love it, we can Texas it! We are so gung-ho about Texas that we can substitute it in as an adjective, noun, or a verb!”
In 2004, Mahler, then a Texas State University student, decided to ahead with the design and get some printed. “It was a type of shirt that I could imagine being sold at Urban Outfitters,” added Mahler.
After finding a print shop that was inexpensive, Mahler approached his friends about buying a shirt. The initial order had just around 20 shirts. “I had buyers for each one and actually somehow ended up losing money,” he said.
It was after seeing the shirts around campus people started asking where they could get a shirt. An order of 100 more shirts were printed that were then sold individually. “I had to raise the price in order to have a profit. I spread them all individually,” said Mahler.
A friend of the family encouraged the business and suggested trying to sell them at the First Thursday event in Austin. The event consists of a festival sort of atmosphere on the first Thursday of the month. Stores stay open late, live music, and local merchants attend to sell their art and products.
Mahler went through the process of getting permission to set up a table, rented a spot for the night, and paid three young neighbor boys to work for the night.
“I sold about 20 or 30 shirts,” he said,”But I was approached by a couple who wanted to sell it in their gift store, Lucky Lizard.”
Lucky Lizard opened a few months later and quickly became popular. “I have seen the shirt grow in popularity thanks to the store.”
Mahler decided to leave Texas State University after completing two full years there. He began working at The Texas Store in Barton Creek Mall, where his boss allowed him to begin to sell the shirts on consignment.
There are around 400 shirts floating around the San Marcos and Austin area, but that number is growing fast.
They only come in one color, royal blue with white letters and a red Texas. “The colors match well, plus they’re the colors of the Texas flag,” added Mahler.
“Being at Texas State immensely influenced this whole thing. I saw an opportunity to take an entrepreneurial step.”
Mahler is still in the process of finding more stores to carry the shirts. For now they can be purchased at Lucky Lizard, The Texas Store, or on the website at www.itxtx.comEmail | Print