Not long after I moved to Frisco, I stopped by Frisco Mercantile to do a bit of shopping, and stumbled upon the Tumbleweed TexStyles booth there. At the time, I had a few Tumbleweed TexStyles tees in my collection, but wasn't familiar with the brand's history or the fact that they were based in Frisco. Fast-forward to today, and Tumbleweed TexStyles is one of the most recognizable Texana-themed businesses in the state. Their designs have been worn by celebrities, including Josh Abbott, Lee Ann Womack, Pat Green and Aaron Watson. Attend a festival in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and more than likely, there's a Tumbleweed TexStyles booth set up selling their designs. Walk down Main Street in Frisco and you're bound to run into a Frisconian in a Tumbleweed TexStyles tee.
So how did two Frisco high school teachers turn a side hustle into a $1 million a year Texas lifestyle business? Where do they find inspiration for new designs? And what's on the horizon for this Frisco-based company? I sat down with co-founders Brian Wysong and Jeb Matulich to find out.
How did Tumbleweed TexStyles get started?
Jeb: “It was around 2011 and Brian and I were both teaching at Liberty High School. We had both gone to Texas Tech and become friends through that connection. We were in a meeting one summer and I was sketching on my notes and Brian leaned over and asked, “What are you drawing there?” and looked at some of the things I was fiddling around with, and mentioned one of those drawings might look good on a t-shirt. He just kept being persistent about it, so over the next few weeks, we just kind of came together and started getting serious about it and had some meetings where we created our name and some of the first designs we wanted to do, started researching shirts and how that all worked. The rest is history, we just kept creating designs with the profits we made from the design before and just kept building our library.”
What was your vision for Tumbleweed TexStyles and how has it changed over the years?
Brian: “It’s changed a lot since 2011. I think in all reality, our original goal and purpose was to just have a little side hustle – to make a little bit of cash beyond our teacher salary. Also, at that time, we thought it was really cool to live out our subject. I taught marketing, Jeb was teaching art, and still teaches art, so it was a great opportunity to live out our skills and entertain our love and taste for our passion.”
“But since then, it’s changed. The first thing was Frisco Mercantile. Then from there, we grew to a few other people from all around the state and I think at that point, Jeb and I realized, “Wow, we have something special here. It’s not just a hobby or opportunity to live out our passion, but it’s an opportunity to actually have a business.” I remember Jeb and I realized it was time to get serious – we have to get together and have marketing and strategy.”
“And so now, our goal is to expand what was just a Texas t-shirt brand into a Texas lifestyle brand where we are representing our passions of hiking, fishing, Frisco, Texas, beer, wine – and promote them through our t-shirts as well as other products in our store and online.”
Why did you choose Frisco as your location for your business and your eventual storefront?
Jeb: “I moved to Frisco in 2000 for a job and we just fell in love with the city. It still had the small-town feel then. I love trains, so I love the whole history of Frisco. [Choosing Frisco] just made sense. This is where our friends are, this is where our families are, our church, co-workers, students – everyone is here so it just makes sense to call Frisco our home and be a place to be our launchpad.”
Brian: “I started teaching at Liberty [High School] in 2009. From there, we fell in love with the city of Frisco at that time just because of the school district. We knew this is where we wanted to work and raise our kids. Fast forward, my wife and I have two children and there’s no better school district. Our roots have been planted."
"Our business has had success because of our teacher friends in Frisco ISD, because of our community members in the City of Frisco, but even more importantly – on social media across Texas, people know that this is where we are. We have people who have traveled from all across the state to see our Frisco Mercantile booth and to see when we pop up at events. So for us, it’s about community and relationships and we want to have a store right here in downtown Frisco so that people have a place to see our products, to meet us, shake hands, and to enjoy not just the product, but the community and experience that our brand exemplifies.”
What inspires you when you’re creating new designs?
Jeb: “It can be a lot of things. Growing up, my dad coached so we moved around a lot, so I got to experience a lot of different parts of Texas. Before we started Tumbleweed TexStyles, I was a practicing artist and most of my paintings have to deal with Texas – maps, old signs, motel signs, water towers, landscapes, so that’s kind of where I get a lot of my inspiration from – road trips, places I’ve lived, experiences that I’ve had. We also have shirts that deal with food, music, all kinds of Texas themes. It was easy for me to come up with ideas early on because there were so many things I wanted to get out there that I hadn’t seen on shirts. So, I would say Texana in general.”
What is your favorite design that you’ve done?
Jeb: “I used to really like the Republic of Texas design. That’s one of my old classic favorites. Some of my more recent favorites are the Texas Stripes design and is kind of a retro look. And another one we did that says “TEX” and it also has some stripes. I’m down with the 70s/80s kind of retro feel shirts.”
Brian: “My favorite designs probably change every time we launch new products. I think my all-time favorite design was called “Explore Texas” on a cardinal blended t-shirt with a yellow/gold shape of Texas and it had a sunset. It’s one of the designs we retired, which might come back one day. Out of current designs, I really love the Texas Stripes because it has that retro vibe and it’s something that every time I wear it, people stop and ask, “Hey, where’d you get that shirt?””
What can we expect to see as far as new designs or new items being released?
Jeb: “We’re always punching out new stuff. We’re trying to drop a few new designs each month or so to keep things fresh and move with the seasons, whether it’s tank top weather or long sleeve weather, we’ll constantly be dropping new things as the year goes on. With us having a new store coming, we’re going to have the square footage for much more than t-shirts, so we’ll be adding to our repertoire… collared shirts, coasters, glassware, artwork, hats, hoodies… we might try and dabble in some other things as well.”
What celebrity you would love to see in a Tumbleweed TexStyles design?
Brian: “Matthew McConaughey when he’s wearing it out on the lake in Austin doing something that also represents our brand.”
Jeb: “I would also say Matthew McConaughey too, but also maybe some sports figures – people like Drew Brees, Earl Campbell, or Willie Nelson.”
How do you hope the Tumbleweed TexStyles brand resonates with people?
Brian: “To me, it’s their pride for Texas but ultimately, it’s about the brand. I want people to be proud of the brand they’re supporting, proud of the art they’re wearing, and to be proud to represent us as family people, people of faith, people who love having a good time. To me, it’s about representing the lifestyle of being good people, community-driven and ultimately love Texas.”
Jeb: “When we set out to start designing and creating our shirts, we were definitely looking for a Texas pride type shirt that would be stylish and comfortable, which at the time in 2011, there wasn’t a lot of that out there. We kind of look at ourselves as a trendsetter in that regard, as in coming out with something that was on a very soft shirt and the designs wouldn’t be so cliché. Even people who move away from Texas and might see our design and say, “Wow, that really feels like home and I have to have that shirt.”
Shop Tumbleweed TexStyles at shoptwt.com, in the Frisco Mercantile, and coming soon, Tumbleweed TexStyles' own brick and mortar location in The Rail District. Be sure to celebrate Show Your Frisco Pride Day with us and Tumbleweed TexStyles on Friday, May 1, 2020.
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