Making of: Surfboard Kids Shirts

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Updated November 24, 2018
Surf Shirts

Working on brand new products is always exciting and terrifying at the same time. You have a great idea, but you're not really sure if anyone will want to actually buy it or not. Up until now all of our products have been based around shirts for grown ups. But today that changes. We're super excited to be launching our first set of kids shirts, and we wanted to show you how we made it happen. Ready? Ok, go!

1. Suppliers

Finding the right kids shirt is really hard. Well, finding the right shirt in general is really hard. Lots of people use a company called American Apparel, and while they have a great selection, good quality and make everything here in the US, we just can't use them in good conscience. They're advertising is super provocative, and they flirt the line with inappropriate poses of really young kids too often. Our mission at Last Night Ago is to help those in need, especially children. American Apparel just doesn't fit with what we believe in. So thankfully after scouring the interwebs and buying way too many shirts, we found a few other places that make good quality kids clothes that are still super comfortable. For this round Bella + Canvas was the winner, but we're still investigating some other wholesalers.

2. Design

Honestly, we had a lot of ideas for summer kids shirts. Can I just say it's really hard to narrow things down when it's your ideas? Ashely and I have gone back and forth so many times it's crazy! Anyway. We finally settled on the surfboards for the first run. But how did you end up with the design? Fantastic question!

Surfboard research

Always start with research! I realized pretty quickly that vintage surfboards were way cooler than all the new stuff out there, so we compiled some of the best ones that would be simple enough to carve out.

Surfboard Sketches

Then we started sketching. Usually I do the whole pencil sketch thing, but we were going for a much simpler, carefree look so I jumped right in with some big, fat, bold PrismaColor markers. This turned out great - I could knock out lots of versions without spending a too much time fiddling with stroke widths and such. Once I got a few that felt good I snapped a picture with my iPhone, vectorized it in Illustrator, cleaned it up just a hair and it was ready to carve. Of course, kid approval was vital to this project so we showed our kids lots of versions before choosing the final one. In the end, the three simple boards worked best. We could make them big enough to fill the shirt and they centered up really well.

 3. Block Printing & Testing

With the design finished it was time to get it carved out and start doing some print tests! This is really fun to do, and the kids even get to help. I could explain it, but this video is way more fun:

Choosing color was something we spent a lot of time on, and Ashely even started experimenting with gradient block printing. I don't know of anyone else even attempting that, but it's pretty rad looking.

4. Photography

You'd think we'd be done by now, right? Nope! Still gotta get product shots of everything. Once we finally nailed down the colors we ended up with 4 versions. We setup a mini studio outside and got some shots and then took the shirts to the beach with our family and got pics of our kids in the shirts right near the water. Perfecto

Kids with surf shirts Surf Shirts Our kids wearing surf shirts

5. Limited Run Pre-Orders

This whole kids shirt business is a little new to us so we're doing a limited run on these surfboard shirts. If you want one, better grab it quick because pre-orders are ending soon! Go to the store and check it out →


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Jonathan Longnecker

About the Author

Jonathan Longnecker is the strongly opinionated tattooed and bearded half of Tiny Shiny Home. He loves making music, figuring out nerdy solutions, exploring the outdoors, and living off-grid.

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Posted June 12, 2014

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