T-Shirt Deli: Creative Business Profile

November 18, 2010
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T-Shirt Deli: Creative Business Profile

The T-Shirt Deli puts a new twist on personalizing shirts. I happened upon the deli during a recent trip to Chicago and kicked myself for having forgotten my camera charger. Luckily, Ninel Pompushko, the owner and founder, sent over some photos of the establishment.

Design, t-shirt, business profile,
Design, t-shirt, business profile,

The concept is pretty simple: your t-shirt design, served hot-off-the-press and wrapped to-go with a side of chips.

Design, t-shirt, business profile,
Design, t-shirt, business profile,
Design, t-shirt, business profile,

Ninel, 37, moved to Chicago 13 years ago. After years of copy-writing for beer commercials, she left the advertising industry to start the T-Shirt Deli. She first envisioned the deli when she thought of several funny sayings to put on t-shirts. Rather than simply customizing a few of her own shirts, she decided she wanted to help others produce shirts too, "much like you can customize your sandwich in a New York-style deli." She says, "After all, not everyone shares my sense of humor, and as it turns out, people absolutely love the opportunity to get creative, and see their own idea turned into a wearable product."

Design, t-shirt, business profile,

Today, there are two stores in Chicago—one in Bucktown and another in Andersonville, and they just celebrated their seventh anniversary on November 15. Happy 7th Birthday T-Shirt Deli! They take orders on their website, and offer a fun 'catering' service. Like any other caterer, they travel to parties, work events, etc., but instead of dishing out spaghetti, they make and serve shirts on-site for the attendees. They'll soon become even more mobile with the addition of an ice cream truck, spooning out T-Shirts instead of ice cream, of course.

Design, t-shirt, business profile,

She spent some time conducting research in New York and visiting delis (I would have gladly helped with that R&D) and designed her stores based on the layout of some of those delis.

Over the years, customers have had many creative ideas to share, though often their designs or text are based on inside jokes, nicknames and other cryptic items only known them and their friends.

Design, t-shirt, business profile,
Design, t-shirt, business profile,
Design, t-shirt, business profile,

A Particularly Memorable Shirt Request:
One customer began creating shirts for his girlfriend when they started dating and would occasionally present her with a shirt throughout their courtship. Finally, he requested a shirt that read 'WILL YOU MARRY ME?' across the front. Later he visited the deli and showed off a photo of their wedding aisle—it was lined with all of the shirts that he'd made for her in frames.

You can see more shirt designs at tshirtdeli.com, or find them on facebook.

Jessica Patterson

Jessica Patterson

Hi, I'm Jessica. I'm a Designer and Writer at Drawbackwards and write for the Design Blog at Design.org. I enjoy vintage things, letterpress, publication design, and long walks around the Cesar Chavez Park pond. You can follow me on twitter at @jessdoodled for lots of fun randomness.

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