The co-founders of Salt & Pepper Tees, a Southern California-based t-shirt company, have taken a start-up business and turned it into a well-received company with sales in 13 states since its Nov. 2 launch. Demand is only rising.
“Our theme and concept is basic colors,” said Laura Ek, co-founder of Salt & Pepper Tees. “We knew we wanted to just do black, white and gray tees, which are sort of a staple in every woman’s wardrobe.”
The early success of Salt & Pepper Tees may be attributed to the partnership that Ek and co-founder Summer Thacker have. The fashion experts grew up together in Southern California and were a natural pair.
“When the idea came to me, I knew I needed to talk to someone who was fashion minded, and so I immediately thought of Summer and called her,” Ek said. “(Summer), said ‘I love the idea. Let’s do this together. I want to be a part of it.'”
Ek and Thacker began planning for the launch in September 2013, each very involved in the decision-making process.
“Everything they do, they make their decisions together — even down to what Instagram post to put up,” said Benny Ek, Laura Ek’s husband. “They both have different backgrounds and style, and they want to make sure it all works together.”
Laura Ek and Thacker each have years of experience working in beauty and fashion. Laura Ek graduated as an art and visual communications major from The University of Utah and has spent the past 10 years as a professional makeup artist.
“Having an eye for design mixed with beauty was always an inspiration for me,” she said.
Thacker graduated as a family and human development major from BYU–Idaho. Her experience varies from retail to fashion blogging to styling for companies and celebrities, including Utah-based swimsuit company Lime Ricki and “American Idol” star David Archuleta.
“Summer is a little bit more out there and progressive with style, and Laura has a pretty good touch on the everyday person,” Benny Ek said. “Summer brings the high-fashion element, and Laura brings the jeans-and-t-shirt girl’s perspective.”
Throughout the design process, fit and quality were major concerns for Laura Ek and Thacker, and they were carefully considered before any fabric selections were made. The co-founders are hopeful that their sensitivity to those elements will increase customer satisfaction.
“It’s a huge priority of ours to make our customers happy,” Thacker said. “We want people to get their t-shirts and be excited to order other ones because they are so happy with the quality and fit of the t-shirts.”
The next step for these fashionistas is expanding the brand and moving into boutiques and retailers.
“Our main goal is to be able to build a brand rather than just t-shirts,” Laura Ek said. “We want to get … people saying, ‘That’s a Salt & Pepper t-shirt’ rather than, ‘What a cute shirt.'”
New designs are expected to be available in February, just in time for the spring season. A kid’s lines and other seasonal items (e.g. tank tops) have been discussed, but no official plans have been made to produce them yet.