Several months ago I met with Amanda Hofman with Go To Market Studio, who designs print-on-demand branded merchandise for businesses outside of the apparel industry. Because t-shirts are the core of Wee Macree, it was a fun connection to compare creative notes. Plus, as she is based in New York City, I loved learning what people are wearing and looking for in city where trends begin.
It was in that call after she learned about Wee Macree that Amanda recommended that I do a ‘Wee Love Tampa’ campaign- very much along the lines of the iconic “I love NY” merchandise. At the time, I had no direction or visual concept of what it could be, but I knew I loved the idea, and so it became shirt #1 for the second collection for our brand.
(Insert: my deepest appreciation for networking and making strong female connections. I have never been the only brain behind Wee Macree, and I can thank connections made through Hey Mama for that.)
As I looked ahead in 2022 from that call, I realized that “Tampa Day” -August 13th or 813 (our area code here)- was coming up in just a two short months. I had time to design something alongside Joanna with Modular Ink, but I wouldn’t have enough figured out to host a professional photoshoot in time. So, I planned a much different approach to launch this campaign. And for the first time, I included adult sizes in the product line-up.
My work-around for a crunch became a shining moment for Wee Macree. Instead of a creative set with kid models and a professional photographer, I scheduled appointments all over Tampa for my two daughters to meet notable city figures that are the heartbeat of where we live, and who also love Tampa. With an iPhone for a camera and meetings scheduled for weeks, my daughters and I set out to share the message of Wee Macree and get these leaders into shirts of their own. The results were fantastic! Our Wee Love Tampa “models” included: the publisher of Tampa Magazine, the Director of Business Connect & Community Outreach for Super Bowl LV, Titus O’Neil (Global WWE Ambassador, professional wrestler, and athlete), a leader in the House of Representatives for Florida, our state Secretary of Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, players from the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, the Mayor of Tampa, the first female Fire Chief of Tampa Fire Rescue, an actress from Steel Magnolias on Netflix, business owners that directly serve children in Tampa, Zoo Tampa, Thunder Bug, and Captain Fear from the TB Buccaneers.
Whew. It’s quite the line-up, right? And, these people that love Tampa got to learn more about Wee Macree and understand the program under the partner nonprofit that donation funds would be allocated for. As the ‘Wee Love Tampa’ has kicked off in partnership with Metropolitan Ministries, there is a more specific case management program within their organization that works directly with school-aged children that struggle with homelessness to help them stay in school and be successful. The program, called “First Hug,” is the ideal beneficiary for shirts sold as the tee itself resembles a big hug, and it’s easy for a child within our sizes to explain exactly what the mission of this program is.
At the end of the day, Wee Macree is here for all kids. And to bring adults into this for children felt special to the children that watch and attempt to model behavior they observe from trusted grown ups around them. It was a reminder of how big of a part every member of our community plays in nurturing empathy amongst the smallest of us.