New Orleans' climate is T-shirt friendly most of the year, so it's a fitting place for a T-shirt of the month club. Jackie and John Abston started the NOLA T-Shirt Club (www.nolatshirtclub.com) about a year ago.
"The idea was John's," Jackie says. "He was a member of the raw spice of the month club. So every month he would get a new spice because he likes to cook."
The Oklahoma natives had family in New Orleans and visited the city often.
"We fell in love with the city and the culture, so we moved down here and started the T-shirt of the month club [in 2015]," Jackie says.
The couple designs every shirt together. John screenprints all T-shirts, and they manage sales and the packaging from their shotgun house in the Irish Channel.
"We're both entrepreneurs," Jackie says. "We started several small businesses together. Before the T-shirt of the month club, we had a marketing company."
Their background in graphic design, social media and website development helped them launch the business. The club started with two subscribers; today it has around 500. The Abstons credit this growth to their strong presence online and at local art markets.
"I had no prior experience at all," John says. "Jackie ordered the equipment and got the equipment together. Every time I make a shirt, I learn something new."
The couple has 20 ideas stockpiled for the coming months. Some T-shirts are emblazoned with "NOLA" or "New Orleans" in clean text. Other designs feature city landmarks, like famous streets, local hallmarks, jazz and festivities. The Abstons designed a special shirt for Mardi Gras and plan to do so every year.
"Either we sit in the office or we're out and about having a glass of wine, or two ... or three," Jackie says. "We just talk about what we love about the city and what would be a cool design. Once we have the design, we try it on several different T-shirt colors, with different paint, to see what looks the best."
Jackie credits John for pushing to take the risk and start the club.
"If I wasn't at work, then you'd only find me in jeans and a T-shirt," John says. "What I had to wear to work before was a coat and a tie, and my goal was to get out of work and come home and put on jeans and a T-shirt. That's all I wear now."
The club attracts many New Orleans expats.
"A lot of our subscribers are people who grew up in New Orleans and get a piece of their hometown every month in the mail," Jackie says. "More people are shopping online. It makes a great gift, a surprise that comes in the mail every month. People really love it and get excited about it."