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MADE IN IDAHO: Local company fighting hunger one T-shirt at a time

Posted: 3:15 PM, Oct 10, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-11 12:47:49-04

BOISE, Idaho — You've definitely seen people around town with Idaho-inspired T-shirts on, and one local company specializing in just that is putting a major emphasis on giving back to the community.

The Idaho Shirt Company is continuously growing its Gem State-driven clothing line, releasing new products every few months.

"We're gunning for the best shirt you'll ever want to wear; like, the one you wear all the time, and it gets all torn up because you've worn it 3,000 times," Ian Williams said. "It's called discharge printing; we pull the dye out of the shirt and then re-inject the dye back in; that way, there's no ink feel at all."

The owners, Ian and Sarah Williams, are on a mission to put people over profit, combining their passion for producing high-quality, comfortable clothing, and the desire to help those in need.

"It's not just about us," Sarah Williams said. "We've always felt other people can benefit from this, so why not take a few dollars from each purchase and put it back toward something good?"

The couple wanted to create a brand Idahoans can wear proudly, by using water-based inks, eco-friendly printing processes, sustainable materials, and donating a portion of each sale to the Idaho Foodbank.

"It really is a feel-good purchase, because there are so many things that are well thought out during this process," Sarah Williams said. "We've been thinking about who to give back to, and we're thinking about the environment, so you can really just be proud to wear these shirts."

They also work with local artists and graphic designers to create one-of-a-kind apparel sold online , inside select Treasure Valley businesses, and their storefront in McCall.

"We live in the mountains, so we get inspired by the mountains," Ian Williams said. "A lot of our designs are nature-based, but we do have some Boise and downtown designs that we've created. We call it the Boise, Idaho Artist Line, [featuring] a hand-sketched pen-and-ink style tee that we had one of our private artist's design, and he actually gets a portion of all of those sales, too."

Traditionally, the Idaho Foodbank receives five meals per T-shirt sold, but through December 1, the Idaho Shirt Company is quadrupling their donations with the goal of donating 10,000 meals by Thanksgiving.

"We're not just here to take and make profits," Sarah Williams said. "We want to give back; we want to see the community thrive, we want to see other people thrive from the purchases of these shirts."

Another main mission for the Idaho Shirt Company is getting custom clothing into the stores of small businesses in the Boise area, allowing other companies to sell their products for a profit.

"We develop entire product lines for small businesses, including all the design work, all of the shipping, the whole project - and we don't charge them anything for it other than the T-shirts themselves," Ian Williams said. "So it's sort of an all-inclusive package deal that we say, 'here's our gift to you guys, this is our investment into the community, and we're not going to charge you anything for it.'"

They've already partnered with dozens of local businesses, adding new clients to their workload regularly like Guru Donuts, Mai Thai, Northwest Nazarene University, and Albertsons on Broadway.

"They love to give back, which we're a huge fan of, and we love their unique designs," Guru Donuts owner Krystle McLaughlin said. "We wanted something unique to Guru, while supporting another great organization."

You can check out their website here , and follow their progress on Instagram here .