“Frockets,” or T-shirts with a faux pocket sewn onto the front, are saving the world one minutely stitched monogram and chevron-patterned pocket at a time.
Since February, a UF student has been designing customized T-shirts to raise money for a different charity each month.
“I’ve always been raised to give back because I’ve been blessed with so much, so it’s like I’ve always felt the need to give in some way,” said Lindsie Herring, a 21-year-old UF telecommunication junior, who first started Sweet Southern Tees as a way to help out with Dance Marathon.
Although Herring did not participate in the fundraiser as a dancer, she still wanted to raise money.
After seeing how popular pocket shirts were becoming, she decided to try making them for herself at a competitive price, giving a portion of the proceeds to charity. Herring already knew how to sew and embroider, so she only needed to figure out how to market the product.
After Herring started marketing the shirts through Facebook, the number of orders she received grew rapidly. At first, she thought she would sell mainly to locals. However, once her product was on the Internet, she started getting orders from other states and even other countries, including Korea and Canada.
“It was at a steady pace in the beginning,” she said. “But after we started doing random sales and giveaways, it really took off. People will share it and like the page to get the discount or giveaway or any other contest.”
Herring said during one promotion, the number of followers on Sweet Southern Tees’ Instagram account doubled. It started out with 500 followers in the morning and ended the day with more than 1,200 followers.
She divides the work long-distance with her mother, Judith Herring, who helps with sewing and embroidering.
Although she said she had no idea exactly how many T-shirts they sold, she estimated it was more than 1,000.
Over the past year, Sweet Southern Tees raised varying amounts for a different charity each month.
For October, it will focus their designs and donations toward breast cancer research.
Judith Herring said breast cancer is a cause close to her heart. She has lost one aunt to breast cancer. Another aunt and two of her cousins survived breast cancer after undergoing double mastectomies.
“It’s been very much in our history, and I could well have it one day, too, or so could Lindsie,” Judith Herring said. “With it being in our family like that, it’s a special cause for us.”
Lindsie Herring said she knows the trend of pocket shirts may not last forever, so she is always looking into the future to see what other products they can sell. She plans to launch a website for the company soon.
“It makes me feel good that I’m not just selling stuff and making a profit for myself, but I’m able to help other people,” she said. “I think it makes other people feel better about buying it, too. They can feel good about not only getting a shirt but helping other people, too.”
A version of this story ran on page 12 on 10/24/2013 under the headline "Fake pockets make real difference for charities"
Telecommunication junior Lindsie Herring, 21, right, poses with her mother, Judith Herring, left. Lindsie Herring started Sweet Southern Tees in February.