Three Suffolk grads (from left: Jaime Bucay, Moy Romano, and Mark Grignon) turned their senior project of making T-shirts with socially aware designs into a business. (Ed Zilberman)
It started as a class project at Suffolk University, but when Moy Romano, Jaime Bucay, and Mark Grignon graduated last year, the three believed in their senior project so strongly that they forged ahead and turned it into a business. The offspring of that project, called Ideologie, is a T-shirt company that aims to be more socially aware and go a bit deeper than messages like “Make Cupcakes, Not War’’ (don’t worry, Johnny Cupcakes, we still love you). The T-shirts are already being carried by local store Stil, which held an Ideologie trunk show last weekend, as well as boutiques in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles. You can also check the fledgling company’s website (www.ideologie-organic.com). Last week, Romano and Grignon stopped by to talk about the new line.
Q. I’m guessing you got a really good grade on this project.
Romano: We definitely did. But it was something that we were really passionate about. We wanted to find a way to get positive messages out into the world, and the best way to do that was on T-shirts. Everything we do is about changing the world in a positive direction. When you think about it, most college students have a wardrobe that is pretty much all T-shirts, so why not use those T-shirts to get a message out to a broad audience?
Q. The T-shirts I’ve seen have an inspiring quote on the back, and then a piece of art on the front inspired by the quote. Is that how all the T-shirts are designed?
Romano: Some of the shirts have the message on the back. [Holding up a yellow shirt] This shirt has Albert Einstein’s quote “Remember your humanity and forget the rest’’ on the back. The front is art inspired by one of his mathematical equations. There’s a shirt with the Gandhi quote “Be the change you want to see in the world.’’ But not all of them are so literal. It’s always inspired by a quote.
Q. Who are the artists creating the designs?
Grignon: At first it was artists from Suffolk’s art school, but we’ve starting working with artists all over. A lot of local artists, but some around the country as well.
Q. Do you guys dictate how it looks, or do you let the artists interpret?
Romano: It’s a collaboration for sure, but we usually let the artists run with the design once they’re feeling inspired. Ultimately we want them to be moved by the words, because then the people who are buying the shirts will be moved by both the message and the art.
Q. Because you’re all about social responsibility and positive messages, I’m guessing the cotton for the T-shirts is organic?
Romano: It’s 100 percent sustainable, certified organic cotton from Texas. We use low-impact dyes that are PVC-free. Even the tags are recycled, and we attached an additional tag that is filled with wildflower seeds. It’s all about trying to do the right thing at each step of the way.
Q. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’re also donating some amount of your profits to charity? Your karma is starting to go through the roof here.
Romano: Well, we try. We donate 2 percent of every tee sold to the Acumen Fund. It’s a nonprofit that uses a business-like approach to solve problems of poverty.
Q. Did your school business plan call for expanding your line?
Grignon: We’re looking at it. But we want to make sure we find the materials and inks to do it right.