In recent years, the trend of clever, city- and state-centric T-shirts has really hit its stride. A handful of companies in the Triangle produce and sell shirts that allow you to represent your city/state and look cool doing it.
At first glance, Pass the Gravy seems like just another of those T-shirt companies. But look beyond the clever N.C.-centric logos on their shirts and you’ll find a brand that’s not just about representing community, but about supporting it.
The company was founded earlier this year by Raleigh crafter/designer Sara Laughter, who created one-off screen-printed shirts for her husband, Paul, mostly for fun. The couple’s friend, John Moss, took interest in the shirts, and soon the trio decided to take the leap and start a business.
“From there, the concept evolved, because we wanted to create a company that was about more than just T-shirts,” said Sara Laughter.
Pass the Gravy’s shirts are manufactured in the Carolinas with cotton sourced from the Carolinas. The shirts are then printed in Burlington by a company that allows Pass the Gravy’s customers to trace the path of their shirt from the field to their backs.
Our customers can go to the website to track their shirt through all seven steps of shirt production: cotton field, cotton gin, spinning, knitting, finishing, cut-and-sew and print-and-dye. The tracking process shows a map of the farm or mill location along with a short description of the facility and a picture of the farmer or manufacturing operator.
Sara Laughter of Pass the Gravy
“We partnered with TS Designs in Burlington, which facilitates our transparent supply chain, for the printing of our shirts,” said Laughter. “Our customers can go to the website to track their shirt through all seven steps of shirt production: cotton field, cotton gin, spinning, knitting, finishing, cut-and-sew and print-and-dye. The tracking process shows a map of the farm or mill location along with a short description of the facility and a picture of the farmer or manufacturing operator. I’ve never seen anything like this, and I feel that this transparency is exciting for the consumer.”
The company then takes it a step further, donating 10 percent of profits to Smart Start, a public/private partnership dedicated to providing educational opportunities for preschool-aged children in North Carolina, to better prepare them for starting school.
“John and I have families with strong ties to community and education,” said Laughter. “John’s mother worked in educational development for 20-plus years and continues to consult for nonprofit organizations. His great-grandmother had a schoolhouse in Zebulon, his grandmother is a retired teacher, his cousin is a teacher, and his fiance is an elementary special education teacher at North Ridge Elementary. My mother was a social worker for 30-plus years in Rowan County, and my father taught in the North Carolina community college system. Education and community have always been a part of our lives, and we have grown up with those values firmly planted.”
Right now, the shirts are only available on the company’s website, passthegravy.com, and at select events, such as a pop-up shop being held 2-5 p.m. Saturday at the Green Monkey, 1217 Hillsborough St. in downtown Raleigh. Laughter says that while the line is still fairly new, she and her partners hope it will make an impact in our state, both for children and manufacturing.
“The Carolinas have such a rich history of agriculture and manufacturing,” said Laughter. “I think that growing up in North Carolina we have all seen the once-flourishing industries of mills and farms now declining or no longer existing. Recently, though, manufacturing has started to make a comeback in North Carolina, which is really important and exciting for our state. We’re hoping that in small part we can help by supporting those folks that have the knowledge and resources to continue bringing more jobs back to North Carolina through historically rich industries.”
Hygiene for the Holidays
Downtown Raleigh’s Design Gallery Salon is offering its clients the chance to help families in crisis with its Hygiene for the Holidays campaign. Through January, the salon will collect new toiletries, diapers, dental care products, laundry detergent and more for families seeking aid from the Women and Children’s Emergency Shelter at the Salvation Army of Wake County. Monetary donations also will be accepted. Donation drop-offs are welcome at the City Market shop Tuesday through Saturday. For more info or to donate by phone, call 919-832-6567.
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