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Meet Rightside Shirt’s creators: Jeff White and Dylan Enright!

At the end of the Fall 2011 semester, then seniors Dylan Enright and Jeff White met up in Lower Dining Hall to throw around ideas for what would eventually become Rightside Shirts.  Dylan and Jeff met and became friends during their time at Boston College, and throughout their friendship, they loved to discuss different businesses and advertising campaigns.

“We were very entrepreneurial,’ said Jeff. “And we wanted to start something socially minded. It wasn’t just about profit.”

Jeff and Dylan discussed a lot of ideas that night.  One idea they had was an organization that taught homeless people how to knit, and then they could sell their hats, scarves, and gloves and, hopefully, lift themselves out of poverty.  But both Jeff and Dylan were interested in doing something with art.  At the time, Jeff was taking a class on expressionism called Rebels and Revolutionaries.  In class, Jeff learned that many famous expressionist artists would paint like children, creating their works without inhibition and approaching the canvas much like a child would.  This showed Jeff that kid’s artwork had value, and that, “Kid’s creative powers are incredibly special.”

Dylan was a part of a Big Brother/Little Brother program at the Edison School, and his little brother had mentioned that the school did not have the art programs that he wanted, and most kids had little or no exposure to art. Dylan and Jeff were also inspired by Ken Robinson’s Ted Talk, which discussed the importance of creativity in schools

“There’s a huge hierarchy in education, with math and science at the top and arts at the bottom,” Dylan said. “Why can’t they be equal? Creativity is just as important as addition or literacy.”

All of these ideas came together that fateful night. Dylan and Jeff decided that they could use t-shirts as billboard for local elementary school children’s artwork and sell the shirts. They could use the money to raise arts from the low-level of the education hierarchy and raise them to the top. But whether or not their business model would work was yet to be seen.

Dylan and Jeff both began working with the Edison School during their second semester senior year. They would hand every student a big sheet of paper and had them draw whatever they wanted. They chose two drawings, one by a girl named Destiny and another by a boy named Calvin, and printed their designs on shirts. They took these shirts to Boston College’s Arts Fest and, within 48 hours, all 72 shirts were sold.

“It proved that we had a viable business model,” Jeff said.

Dylan and Jeff had a big decision to make. Both of them had great job offers for after graduation, but clearly they had something special with this t-shirt business. They decided to come back to Boston after graduation and work on the business full time. Thus Rightside Shirts was officially born. Dylan and Jeff came up with the name because the right side of the brain is the creative side.

It is awesome that Dylan and Jeff decided to stick with Rightside Shirts, because it is becoming a great success. They have partnered with 10 elementary schools in Boston, printed t-shirts for seven of these schools. And have raised over 1,400 dollars for school art programs. They want to establish their roots in Boston, but they hope to expand to other cities such as Chicago, Washington D.C. and San Francisco.

At first, Dylan and Jeff were approaching schools to see if they would partner with Rightside Shirts, but now schools are starting to come to them. When they go to a school, they hand every student a piece of paper and tell them to create whatever they want with any materials they want.

“We don’t want to hinder their creativity,” Dylan explained. “We take their designs and we pick a few and print the winners pictures exactly as they did them.” At the first few schools, Dylan and Jeff would pick the winners themselves, but now the process is a bit more complicated.

“Now we are narrowing it down to about ten that we really like and give out surveys to friends and coworkers or people who like our Facebook page and get their input,” Jeff said. “We also talk with buyers from different retailers to get their opinion because they know what’s in fashion.”

Each shirt cost $24 and every single dollar Jeff and Dylan make goes right back to the schools to fund art programs. The money goes toward anything that can cultivate creativity in the school. In some schools, only the older children (6th, 7th, and 8th graders) get to take art, so volunteers from BC will go in and teach the younger kids using supplies that Rightside Shirts raised. At some schools there is no art teacher, so all the money goes towards supplies.

Starting any business is extremely stressful and challenging. Both feel like there is a constant pressure to always be working on Rightside Shirts. And, as Dylan said, it is no fun waking up to a pile of un-sold t-shirts. But hardships aside, it is clear that Dylan and Jeff love their job. For Dylan, the best part of the job is going into the younger kids classroom and seeing them get so excited about the contest and listening to them explain their work after they finish. Jeff loves meeting with the kids who win the contest and telling them that their design is going to be on a shirt.

“It’s really empowering for them,” Jeff said.

Indeed it is.  Calvin, who designed one of the most popular t-shirts (the one with the duck) signed his name with that duck for the rest of the year after he won the contest. Angelo was another contest winner. His mother told Dylan that before Angelo won the contest, he never really seemed interested in arts. However, since he won, his mother can’t seem to get him to stop drawing and painting.

It is no wonder that Rightside Shirts is quickly becoming a success. Dylan and Jeff work hard to run their business, and the shirts are absolutely adorable. I myself plan on buying an Angelo shirt. If you want to check out the shirts in person, Dylan and Jeff will be at Arts Fest again this year (April 25-27). Everyone should really consider buying a shirt – not only will you have a great new shirt to add to your collection, but all of your money will go right to an elementary school to support Arts education.

“Our goal is to spread creativity. Our ultimate ideal is that every student K-8th grade gets an art class at least once a week,” Dylan said.

Help Dylan and Jeff achieve their goal by visiting Rightside Shirts, or finding them at Arts Fest, and consider buying a shirt! It can make a huge difference in the lives of elementary school students in Boston.

Photo Source:

Jeff White





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