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So... Why T-Shirts?

Posted by Sam Kearney on

Just like a fir in the forest, we have grown, changed, nearly toppled over a few times due to harsh conditions, but still stand tall. Before Fox & Fir Design focused on apparel, we were a web design company, which was formerly known as Kerning Kearney, which was a tiny seed planted two years ago during a brief stay in South Florida.

So how did we end up here?

Bee Mandala tank tops

I've always been an artist. From drawing on the walls of my bedroom, to my first drawing tablet at the tender age of 15, I've always found it to be a great way to better understand the world around me. I especially loved sketching plants (and anime characters, but that's not really "on brand"), I could sit there for hours in front of a leaf and have pages of material by the time someone has to drag me away (because I will not stop drawing, guys, it's a problem).

So you could imagine my excitement when I was offered a job as a graphic designer for a brand new company. Sure, it was in South Florida, and my husband and I (along with our dog, Foxy) were living in Charlotte near friends and family. Sure, I had the pasty pallor of an under-the-weather vampire with an iron deficiency. Sure, it was hot and flat, and we longed for the coolness and curves of the mountains (we were App State alum, after all). But in a matter of two weeks we had packed up all of our belongings into a U-Haul and headed down I-95 to West Palm Beach.

Sam, Matt, and Foxy

We didn't know. WE DIDN'T KNOW.

The graphics job turned into a web design job, which turned into working from home, which turned into Kerning Kearney, LLC. Absorbing all of that knowledge in a matter of months was all thanks to coffee,, coffee, Adobe Muse, and coffee.

Things were good for a while, but as I was sweating in our tile-floored, alligator swimming hole adjacent apartment, a realization occured. If I can work from anywhere, why the heck are we still far from the people and places we love? So my ever-so-supportive partner and pup packed up once more and settled in Asheville, North Carolina. Kerning Kearney became Fox & Fir Design, specializing in carbon-neutral websites and spreading awareness of the digital impact on our environment.

Now, I realize the title of this blog post is "So... Why T-Shirts" and I'm totally getting there. 

Yoda says chill out

Moving to Asheville showed me just how kind, inviting, and supportive a city can be. It inspired me (I say "inspired" like it's still not happening every dang day) to be a better artist, a better entrepreneur, and a better person. After a few months of living here, meeting wonderful people, making extraordinary friends, and even feelin' some self-love for the first time in my life, it hit me...


Oops! Not only did I really hate the fact that art was no longer for me, but I wasn't confident in the industry. I was drained, absolutely exhausted, and experiencing the physical drawbacks of sitting in front of a computer monitor for 15 hours a day. But I was left with all of these skills, and this insatiable passion for helping out the environment. This... was a problem.

A big problem.

Like, I barely made it out of that swirling-vortex-of-self-hatred-and-doubt alive problem.

After quite a few head-clearing hikes, tearful therapy sessions, and sleepless nights, I decided to stop what I was doing and find a job until I could regroup and build again. Luckily I started working at Asheville Screen Printing with some really talented and fantastic people, and after a few weeks, the question was asked, "So when are you going to make a shirt?"

This question must have repeated itself in my head a thousand times. It never occurred to me that my art could be something that people wear, and that could be a great way to spread the message of sustainability! After work, I came home and put pen to paper (well, stylus to tablet) and started designing like crazy. 

Work work work work work

Hours of research was invested into finding the best sustainable brands to partner with, and Recover and Bella+Canvas came out on top. I built a Shopify store, mocked up the designs, and printed our flagship shirt, the Bee Mandala, which benefits The Honeybee Conservancy and their Sponsor-A-Hive program. 

And, well, here we are! A bonafide apparel brand born in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I'm so excited to see what the future holds for us, as we continue this journey. Next month we'll be featuring our other fantastic designs, which are now available for pre-order at a special discounted rate. Our mission is to spread the love, spread awareness, and show the world that #wegiveafox!


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