We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelby Saarinen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shelby, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
More than ever, it’s so important to have a hobby or activity that allows you to disconnect from reality and offer an opportunity to clear your mind and relax. For me, that is through creating! To be honest, I did not originally plan to start a “t-shirt business”. I was planning a marketing consulting business that would offer logo creation, business cards, brochure layouts, and other services like social media marketing. I have a marketing background and I love designing brochures and writing content. But, one day I was working on a few designs and had an idea for a decal for my wonderful state of Montana. What I thought would be a cool sticker, or something, turned into a hot, new t-shirt. That t-shirt then grew to sweatshirts and tank tops, which then grew to more designs and even other small businesses asking for custom apparel. Through offering custom shirts and creating other, new, custom designs, I came to the realization that designing and pressing shirts was my little stress reliever and getaway.
What should our readers know about your business?
What I love about my brand is that the inspiration came from the pride that my community has in our state. Montana is absolutely gorgeous and most of us spend our time outside. Montana is known for its endless mountains, open sky, and the wildlife. On the most perfect night, you can look up and see every star. These are the ideas that I tried to capture in my design. Of course, things don’t always come easy. I still love my full time job and being a single mother might as well be another one. Time has always been a set back. I have many great ideas, aspirations, and dreams for my business but struggle with when I will find the time to accomplish them. Along the way, I have made things a bit easier by involving my son. He will help me package and organize items. Even when he doesn’t feel like helping, he will do his own crafting so we’re still together. He visits me at shows and vendor events and is always telling me “you’ve got this, mama”. He’s my greatest supporter. At the end of the day, I’m very proud of all I have accomplished and I love that I am able to show my son what it looks like to work hard for what you have and to always do the right thing. We are a true small, family-owned business!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Helena is an amazing place to visit! This city is jam-packed with local businesses, my favorite. I try to support my small businesses as much as possible. I can’t wait to show you around!
My ideal week in the summer involves a lot of water. On our way to the river, we like to stop at the local convenience store, Bob’s Valley Market, and grab some drinks and a breakfast sandwich. They are made with their award winning honey ham. My absolute favorite place to be is on the river. Some of us have rafts, but I prefer my paddle board. It’s so relaxing to float with no time restraints and nowhere to be. We love to stop at the Dearborn swimming hole where the kids use the rope swing to cannon ball into the water. We have been known to spend at least two hours here just chatting and hanging out with the kids. After a long day on the river, I love to stop at Shotgun Annie’s in Wolf Creek for potato skins. They are the best (and I don’t have to cook dinner).
Sometimes the river can make for a long day, so instead, we visit Lakeside on Hauser. It’s a fun, family bar & restaurant that is right on Hauser Lake. They have horseshoes, volleyball nets, and the largest fire pit you’ll ever see. During the day, the kids can play on the beach and at night we bundle up by the fire.
On Thursday we’ll head over to Maison at Oddfellow Inn & Farm. It is a quaint little bed and breakfast that hosts a weekly buffet style dinner on the patio with beautiful live music. It’s the perfect spot to bring your bestie and catch up from the week, enjoy the best glass of rose, and relax. They even grow their own produce on site, which I find very cool!
Much like everyone else, family is extremely important! We get all the nieces and nephews together at least once a week at one of our homes. The perfect night is a game of Skipbo with a brisket on the smoker. The kids play until they pass out. This time is a must!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am extremely lucky to have always had a great support system. I have grown up around driven and motivated people who have instilled in me the importance of dreaming big! My mom has always been an entrepreneur and my dad has always had a strong work ethic. My biggest supporters are my fans who have been with me since the very first shirt. Those who continue to come back and support me with each new design. You guys are the real MVPs and I wouldn’t be where I am without you!
MYAHmazing Photography Autumn Essence Photography