#PeopleofNEI: Kirsten and Melissa, the story behind Old Fort Tee Co.

Northeast Indiana is evolving. These are the people shaping its future. #PeopleofNEI

This week's feature:

Kirsten and Melissa started Old Fort Tee Co. in the summer of 2017. Kirsten moved to Fort Wayne six years ago for a job offer and Melissa has lived in Fort Wayne her entire life. They talk about their experiences in northeast Indiana and the love they have for the city. Kirsten says, “I asked Melissa if she wanted to start a t-shirt company with me and she said ‘yes’ in less than a minute. I became notorious at my day job for telling people that Fort Wayne really wasn’t all that bad and it ended up becoming our best selling t-shirt. I lived in Wisconsin, Detroit, and New York City for years. I have the comparison of these different places, and there really is so much going on here. There is a great diversity of local shops and the restaurant scene is incredible here. The only problem I have with Fort Wayne is if people choose to leave. We have to stay and invest in the future. Fort Wayne has a ton of potential; Electric Works and The Landing are just a couple of examples of that. The city is only going to become more and more vibrant.” Melissa says, “My favorite part of this business is seeing our shirts being worn when we are out and about. Most people get our sense of humor and understand what we are doing. It’s great to build a business from nothing and see what you can do. That is why “Shop Small” is important. We try to actively support small businesses ourselves. I have lived in the 46807 for twenty years and I love it. I’ve always felt like it was a secret nook in the city. I would love to do neighborhood shirts in the future.” Kirsten adds, “Had I stayed in New York City, I would have had a roommate until I was 80. Fort Wayne is easy to get around. Everyone is so friendly. It’s cost-effective, and it has so much more opportunity than other cities. It’s important to support our local economy. Our shirts are made in the United States and printed here in Fort Wayne. We are thankful to everyone that has purchased a shirt. It means a lot to us. As the city changes, our shirts will continue to change and grow with it.” #PeopleofNEI

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Read more articles by Stephen J. Bailey.

Stephen J. Bailey is a Fort Wayne native and the owner of PH Digital that was founded in 2006. Based out of the Anthony Wayne Building in downtown Fort Wayne, he specializes in web development, SEO development, social media management, and digital marketing campaigns with numerous companies in northeast Indiana. Stephen loves road trips, sushi, his pups, and spending time on our three rivers.
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