CU-Denver MBA candidate Andrea Burns first conceived of the idea for LoyalTee -- a fledgling business that creates T-shirts celebrating favorite (and sometimes esoteric) local haunts -- as a class project. "I was aware of a few different companies that were basically doing the same thing in different parts of country, and I got inspired and began thinking what we would do if it was Colorado," Burns explains. "Our first shirt was the Tivoli shirt. We created that with help from AHEC, and they sell it in their bookstore; then it just grew organically from there."
With fellow entrepreneur Todd Culter, Burns went on to create a modest line of ten shirts, honoring everything from the Rocky Flats Lounge to the old Mile High Stadium, from a clearly (but sweetly) biased point of view. "Some are just personal favorites, like Stella's Coffeehaus, which is where I spent all my time studying when I was in school," Burns admits. And the company puts its money where its heart is: Not only is the tag on each tee a postcard telling the history of the place it celebrates, but LoyalTee lives up to its name by donating a percentage of each sale to the lauded businesses. Though LoyalTee is small and both partners work full-time at other jobs, Burns expects to slowly add new titles to the inventory.
"One fun thing is all the suggestions we get on our website," she says. "We've had so many for Casa Bonita! Also, people who are clearly pretty homesick come across the website and send us e-mails: One lady in Texas said she was crying her eyes out when she found the site, because she used to go to the Bonnie Brae and the Stadium Inn. A lot of those suggestions are spot-on. For us, it's just a matter of getting the resources and working on getting the partnerships in place."
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Where can you find them? Mostly online, but LoyalTee will also have a presence at the Denver County Fair as a vendor in the Buy Local Pavilion later this month. Next shirt in mind? "The Colorado state flag," she says, "because it will help us grow the ones already linked to specific businesses and promote businesses around the state and help us to fund others. These are places that make our town and city great."
Each locally made, eco-inked shirt is $23. For more information about LoyalTees (or to submit a T-shirt suggestion), go to the website. And to get all the details on the Buy Local Pavilion and everything else at the Denver County Fair, surf to that site and dive right in.