Hey guys! Brooke here - art and social media director for walk in love. I thought it would be fun to spend some time asking my husband T.J., founder of walk in love., a few questions about our business and life, so you can get to know him a bit more!
Q: Why did you start walk in love?
A: Back in 2005, I wanted to go on a mission trip to Siberia, Russia with my dad. My dad has been a missionary my entire life and every summer he travels to Russia, for a month, to teach kids American sports and tell them about Jesus. I was in college at the time, and had recently really turned my life around to follow Jesus, and wanted to go to Russia with my old man! Needing to raise money for my trip, I decided I would sell t-shirts that had "walk in love." printed on them as my fundraiser. I ended up going to Russia that summer, and following two! And by then, I had fallen in love with selling shirts and haven't stopped ever since. In July of 2016, it will be 11 years since I sold the first walk in love. shirt!
Q: Where does the phrase "walk in love" come from?
A: Ephesians 5:1&2 says this, "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."
Q: Is Ephesians 5:1&2 your favorite Bible verse?
A: Honestly, I try not to have one. I know that God can use any verse in His word to radically change my heart and life, so when I read the Bible I try to do it with fresh eyes. I try not to focus on my "favorites", and instead allowing God to use all of His word to speak to me however He wants to.
Q: What is your favorite walk in love. shirt design?
A: If I had to pick one, I would pick the original walk in love. shirt because that's what started it all!
Q: How do you come up with new shirt designs?
A: Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes I start with a specific verse, sometimes it's a style of art, and sometimes it's a general concept/idea. For example, when we were planning for the Summer 2015 collection, I knew that I wanted it to be photographed on the beach in California. So, we dove into that idea and eventually ended with the Salt + Light Collection. This year, for Summer 2016, which is called Shine (launching April 15th!) we decided on one of Brooke's ideas for a camping/1970's look. I can't wait for you guys to see it!
Q: Do you design all the shirts?
A: When I first started walk in love., I designed all the shirts, but as we've grown, that is no longer the case. There are so many talented designers out there, so we do hire other artists to design shirts. It's great for us because we get to just come up with ideas and watch talented designers make it their own. I did design the Summer 2016 collection, but we are looking for other designers for Fall 2016. It all depends on the look we are going with. All of our shirts have the designer listed in the description of the shirt online, like shown below!
Q: What is your favorite thing about running walk in love?
A: It's our customers! They are just so amazing. I feel so honored and blessed that I can sell t-shirts as my job. Without our loyal customers that wouldn't be possible. When I see someone post about walk in love. on Instagram, I could cry because it just means so much to me that something I have built is worthy of your money, time and energy! My favorite thing is, and will always be, our amazing customers!
Q: What is the craziest thing that has ever happened at walk in love?
A: It has to be that I can say that, "two NBA MVP basketball players (Steph Curry + Kevin Durant), a Heisman trophy winner + National Champion (Tim Tebow), Super Bowl winning coach (Tony Dungy) + Olympic Gold Medalist (Jordan Burroughs) all wear walk in love. shirts!" That is just so crazy-cool to me!
Q: Why did you close the stores in Lancaster and Stone Harbor?
A: We closed the stores because it simply wasn't what we loved. We love selling t-shirts and the stores distracted us from that as a core business. They were also super expensive which was stressful. Mostly though ,we closed them so we could focus on what we love doing - designing amazing shirts + creating awesome content!
Q. When you meet walk in love. fans in public, what do they normally say to you?
A: Lately the first thing people say to me is either, "June is so cute!" or "I love watching your Snapchats!" Both of which I really appreciate! The funniest thing that someone ever said to me when meeting me was, "I thought you'd be taller..." ? Ha!!
Q. Any other funny stories about meeting fans of walk in love?
The funniest thing that happens is when I can see people recognize me, or my family, and don't come up to say hello. I have heard parents say to their kids, "Just go say 'Hi!' to them!", which is always "sooo embarrasing" to the kids. People! If you ever see me out and about come say "Hi!" I would love to meet you! I am not a celebrity. I just sell t-shirts!
Okay, now for some personal questions!
Q: What is your favorite thing about being a dad?
A: That is such a hard question for me to answer because you, Brooke, obviously know our daughter really well and know that she is just the best. If I absolutely had to pick a favorite thing about being a dad it would be that I enjoy it so much. Someone can easily see so many negative parents on social media and it can kind of freak you out, like, "Are we sure we want to have kids?", but now that I have one, I realize that it is awesome and it's all about your attitude towards it! So, my favorite thing is that I love it and I love watching you be a mom, and I love June... Okay, that's three things! But seriously, I love all aspects of it!
Q: What is your favorite thing to do, outside of business?
A: Hanging out with my wife. I know it seems silly to say that to you, as you interview me, but I love doing anything and everything with you - especially going for walks, which have lead to some of our best conversations about life, future and dreams! My favorite hobbies would be watching comedies on Netflix, playing video games and baking bread. I make a mean baguette!
Q: What are your favorite shows to watch on Netflix?
A: The Office is my all time favorite show. I don't even know how many times I have watched it all the way through. It's so good. I also really like Parks + Rec, 30 Rock, Friends + Seinfeld.
Q: What about movies?
A: I went to film school, which most people don't know about me, so I have seen a lot of movies! I actually kind of burned myself out on movies, so I really enjoy anything I haven't seen before. I like action films the most. My favorite movies of all time though are The Royal Tenenbaums and The Iron Giant. I can't wait till June is old enough to watch The Iron Giant with me!
Q: Any favorite Books?
A: Two years ago I decided I was going to read more because most successful people in this world are extremely well read. I started with a lot of "Young Adult" reads because they were easy and enjoyable. My favorite discovery over the past two years was The Red Rising Trilogy. Those books are amazing! Obviously, I love reading the Bible, but that is a given. I am also a big fan of business books by Gary Vaynerchuk and Seth Godin.
Q: Favorite food and restaurant?
A: Anything you cook! I know people might think that I am joking, but you are an amazing cook. We've been married almost seven years and I can only remember one dish you cooked that I didn't like, which you always tell me you "could make better next time!!!" I am not picky when it comes to restaurants though, seeing that I love Shake Shack, Chik-Fil-A, Five Guys, the buffalo chicken sub from Hot-Z-Pizza on Fruitville Pike in Lancaster. If it's food, I will normally eat it without any issues! And now I'm hungry.
Q. Are you embarrassed by how much coffee we drink?
A: Never. Venti Iced Coffee with Classic Sweetner and Soy for LIFE!
Q. How many kids do you think we will have?
A: How many kids do you want to have? I think we will have as many as God wants us to have. You know that I don't have a number on it! I definitely want June to have some siblings because it will just be so much more fun!
Q. Anything else you want to add?
A: I don't think so! This was fun! But seriously I'm hungry, let's go eat something.
You can follow T.J. on Instagram and Snapchat - @tjmousetis - and his blog, HERE.