Today's Edition Local News Missouri News Nation World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Jobs Newsletters Search
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
story.lead_photo.caption Stephanie Love cuts out the transfer designs and sorts different sizes of T-shirts so her mother, Tammy, can press the designs. Photo by Emily Cole / News Tribune.

For the last 14 years, Tammy and Stephanie Love have been making T-shirts out of a small setup in their basement.

The Eugene residents, a mother and daughter team, started making the shirts back in 2005, when Tammy decided to start a business for her daughter to help with.

Stephanie, 31, has Down syndrome. After she finished school, she started attending a workshop in Eldon, learning computer and other skills. The workshop provided jobs through Fasco, but when Fasco shut down, Tammy wanted to make sure Stephanie had something she could do.

"My jobs have always kind of centered around her so that she could be safe, but I really wanted to start this up so we could actually have a business to where she would still feel important," Tammy said.

A few years ago, Tammy started working as a direct care staff member at Jefferson City-based Day Solutions, a daytime care service for people with developmental disabilities, and Stephanie started attending there instead. However, they still keep Steph's Tees running at their home.

"I named it after her because I wouldn't have ever opened it without her," Tammy said.

Steph's Tees does transfer designs on a variety of shirts, sweatshirts, jackets and even baseball caps. They send off for transferable designs from a company out of Ohio called Midwest Lettering, based on what clients ask for. Once the designs are approved by the client and shipped to their house, the transferring process begins.

Stephanie cuts the designs apart, separating the front and back designs and sorting them into piles. She also helps her mom by sorting the T-shirts by size and laying them out for easy reach.

Then Tammy uses a press, which heats up to 350 degrees, to transfer the designs onto the clothing. After the heat transfer, Stephanie folds the shirts and put them in boxes.

Their setup might be small, and they've never advertised, but Steph's Tees has seen some big orders. Around 10 years ago, they did an order of 400 shirts for a science club. Just the mention of their biggest order makes Stephanie grimace.

"We were sick of seeing that color, weren't we, Steph?" Tammy asked her daughter, laughing.

That order was a bit of an outlier. Most orders are 12-200 shirts. The mother-daughter team makes shirts for ball teams, family reunions, local lawn-care companies, the Eugene School District FFA, the Knights of Columbus and many others.

A frequent customer is Our Lady of the Snows Elementary School in Eugene. They make school shirts, ball team shirts and other school program shirts for the Catholic school.

Right now, they run the small business around Tammy's full-time job and Stephanie's time at Day Solutions, but they hope to someday do it full time.

"I think there will be a day that'll come where she'll be more tired. They age a lot quicker than we do," Tammy said. "I'd like to see us do this more full time so that she gets a break from everything."

For now though, they're happy with their situation. Stephanie is learning a lot at Day Solutions, and once a week she gets to help out at a local child care center.

"I'm glad she has friends and she gets to do all this stuff, but then we actually have something that she can be proud of and that's pretty much hers," Tammy said. "I wanted it to be her business."

So for now, the mother and daughter are just letting the business move along slowly and enjoying spending the time together.

"Steph and me are just together forever," Tammy said.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT