“None of us were expecting this because we’re just a group of people who decided to put our everyday skills to work. The outpouring of support from all over the world has been tremendous and provided us with an opportunity to raise way more money than any of us could have donated individually.”
— Troy DeRose, co-founder Wild Fire Tees
What started out with a handful of t-shirt designs, a desire to help and an expectation to make a modest contribution to wildfire relief efforts in Colorado has taken off in astonishing fashion.
On Saturday night, after less than five days in the online marketplace, Wild Fire Tees was up to $270,000 in t-shirt sales.
The company features a rotating line of Colorado-created, limited edition t-shirts with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Colorado wildfire relief efforts.
At $20 a piece that’s 13,500 orders and all proceeds benefit the Colorado Red Cross and the Care and Share Food Bank.
“We were a little unprepared for it to take off the way it has,” said Wild Fire Tees co-founder Troy DeRose. “It just spread like wildfire.”
DeRose, 32, was born and raised in Craig.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Mesa State College, now Colorado Mesa University, DeRose moved to Colorado Springs and in 2008 started Fixer Creative, Co., a graphic design company.
Three years later DeRose’s wife, Sara, 31, joined his team.
When the High Park Fire ignited last month near Fort Collins and grew to be the largest wildfire in Colorado history, DeRose and his wife felt compelled to help.
They began talking to their friends and business partners — a group of designers, marketers and printers — all residing in Pueblo and Colorado Springs.
Originally the idea was to take up a collection, DeRose said. But as conversations continued, interest grew and the ideas started to flow.
The group, consisting of Co-Pilot Creative, Design Rangers, Magneti Marketing, Last Leaf Printing, Fixer Creative, Co., and artist Jeremy Grant, opted instead to put their skills to use and co-founded Wild Fire Tees.
Although the company had plans to launch a web site sometime this month, the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs motivated the group to accelerate their efforts.
The Waldo Canyon Fire ignited June 23.
It has killed two people, destroyed more than 350 homes, and has grown to 26-square miles in size.
More than 10,000 people remain evacuated from their homes.
“Up until last week the fire in Fort Collins was the most destructive in Colorado history,” DeRose said. “When the fire here started we decided to rush ahead, even though we weren’t completely ready.”
At noon on June 27 www.wildfiretees.com went live with seven t-shirt designs. Twelve hours later the site had received 15,000 hits and raised more than $50,000 in t-shirt sales.
By Saturday night Wild Fire Tees was up to $270,000 in sales.
“None of us were expecting this because we’re just a group of people who decided to put our everyday skills to work,” DeRose said. “The outpouring of support from all over the world has been tremendous and provided us with an opportunity to raise way more money than any of us could have donated individually.”
Though DeRose and everyone involved with Wild Fire Tees are shocked by the venture’s immediate success, his father, Dave, said it’s on point with his son’s values.
“Growing up he always talked about someday starting a charity or business that would help others,” Dave said. “I wasn’t surprised when he called to tell me what he was doing.
“As for its success that doesn’t surprise me either. We happen to live in a real generous community and a real generous state.”
The Wild Fire Tees concept has been so successful the founders decided to retire Saturday its first seven designs after just four days on the market.
Eleven new t-shirt designs were unveiled that same day, including a number of submissions from the public.
Preorders for round two t-shirts are currently being taken online at www.wildfiretees.com. One hundred percent of round two proceeds will benefit the Colorado Fire Relief Fund 2012 and Immediate Local Wildfire Relief.
The group plans to unveil many more designs during the summer, DeRose said. The public is encouraged to submit designs for consideration to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information may also be found on the group’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/wildfiretees.
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