Kevin Lane is awesome. It says so on his T-shirt.
The founder of Earl’s Tees, 6622 Land O' Lakes Blvd, said he has loved putting funny sayings on T-shirts since he was a teenager. In high school, he was known for his shirts. And sometimes, they got him into trouble.
The “Kevin Lane is Awesome” shirt, in particular. It was a joke, but it annoyed one classmate enough that she slapped him for it.
He wore that same shirt for 15 years, until it finally had to be thrown out.
Shirts are a great way to express yourself, and it's fun to watch people's reactions to a particular shirt, Lane said.
Since opening Earl's Tees online in 2007, and the Land O' Lakes storefront in August of 2011, his favorite thing about the business has been watching his dream become a reality.
The company makes custom shirts—with no minimum order— as well as vinyl decals and other customized items. His customers range from the college student who wants one shirt to businesses who want hundreds. He also has a line of T-shirts sold through a chain of 36 stores in Boston, something he hopes to do in local clothing stores soon, as well.
"Opening the shop opened us up to business we never had before,” Lane said. As online company, he worked from a 10-foot-by-10-foot bedroom and was limited in the number of people he could reach; now, he has people stopping in the shop all the time.
Shaping this dream hasn’t been easy for the Lane family. When Earls' Tees first opened, Kevin Lane was working full time as an analyst at T-Mobile, leaving his day job, grabbing a quick a bite and then working all night printing shirts to fill orders. After their first child, Jagger, was born, he and his wife, Crystal, made a leap. She left her job and took over managing the shop full time.
Lane still works full time for T-Mobile; Crystal and Jagger, now 1 year old, run the shop during the day—mom taking and filling orders, son charming everyone who walks in.
It’s fun to have people bring in an idea and see it come to life, Crystal Lane said.
“There’s no limit to what we can do,” Kevin Lane said.
He recently was at The White Room, and the bartender mentioned she’d always wanted to have a certain phrase on a shirt. He left and came back 20 minutes later with that shirt for her, Kevin Lane said.
The turnaround time might not be 20 minutes in other cases, but it’s generally only one or two days if the size and colors are in stock. Otherwise, turnaround is between three and five business days, Kevin Lane said.
Earl’s Tees offers multiple printing options, including screen printing and direct to garment (DTG). They also will personalize “anything with fabric”, including sports jerseys and bags. Signs and window decals for businesses and individuals—funny quote on your car, anyone?—also are on the menu at Earl’s Tees.
Earl's Tees is one of many places you can go in the Bay area to get custom shirts made. But at Earl's, they are going to give you personalized service and do everything they can to make sure you come back, Kevin Lane said.
And anything goes. From the goofy to the raunchy, if you can say it out loud, you can say it on an Earl’s shirt.
You can even get a "Kevin Lane is Awesome" shirt, if you’d like. He’s sold a few of those, as well.
Want to order a shirt? Check out the online store for some ideas.
So who exactly is Earl? Find out more about the people behind Earl’s Tees.