Blend a passion for crafting with a love of food, then toss in a dash of business acumen, and you've got Cyndi Grasman's winning recipe for Bad Pickle Tees. Starting with one witty poultry pun, Cyndi and her husband John successfully turned her "hobby into a jobby," as she likes to say, and now sell culinary-themed apparel to enthusiasts the world over.
Bad Pickle Tees (Valley Center, California)
Type of Craft:
Foodie t-shirts and other apparel
Years in Business: 4
I was in the restaurant industry for many years. I had the idea for a shirt that said DUCK DUCK CONFIT, so I asked for a screen-printing kit for Christmas 2011 and made the shirt for myself. When I started to wear it, our chef friends and people we knew in the restaurant business loved it. They all wanted shirts too, so I made a few more designs and opened an Etsy shop. Within months, I was so busy I quit my job and have been doing BPTee full time ever since. We have an old Volkswagen van we pack everything into when we sell at food and craft fairs. It's like our third employee.
The feeling you get when you realize you can change your life and do something you're passionate about every day is unbelievable.
I draw most of our stuff, though we use some prints. For example, the butcher pig on our products is a famous French print that you often see in cookbooks.
They usually come about over dinner with friends where several bottles of wine are consumed.
There's nothing like watching someone break out in a huge smile while they're reading our shirts. You just can't get that online.
I don’t know if I’m a foodie, but I certainly love to eat!
Pickle was my nickname as a kid. Bad Pickle is my alter ego.
My favorite guilty-pleasure food at the moment is Trader Joe’s spicy pickle chips. I can eat a whole bag by myself. And I recently discovered Japanese soy sauce eggs. They’re umami bombs!
Start small, but start with high quality. You may have to spend a little more on materials for the start-up, but it's well worth it. You want to be known for high quality from the get-go.
Also, remember when you start your craft business, there are two sides: the craft side and the business side. You have to devote time to both. It can be hard to find the balance, but it's the only way to grow and be successful.