Shopping enthusiasts know that the simplest items can sometimes be the hardest to find. But for aspiring entrepreneurs, this creates new and exciting business opportunities.
Particularly over the past few years, underrated clothing items like socks and sunglasses have become the object of million-dollar business empires. Likewise, Fresh Clean Tees — an e-commerce company selling high-quality and affordable men’s basics — has grown to accumulate $45 million in revenue.
Husband and wife duo Matthew and Melissa Parvis started Fresh Clean Tees to help men find stylish and comfortable tees without spending a fortune. Founded in 2015, the company built $500,000 in revenue by 2017. Now, the business is well on its way to earning $50 million by the end of 2021.
Since the business’s launch, Matt and Melissa have built a reputable company that sells more than just t-shirts. The clothing line now features extended sizing and additional items like tanks, socks, and outerwear.
But how did Matt and Melissa take such a basic item and use it to establish a multi-million dollar company?
From Guest Bedroom to San Diego Business Office
Initially, Matt and Melissa began their business venture as a side-gig, conducting operations in their guest bedroom and using their garage as a product warehouse. Little did they know, in just a couple of years, their humble business would grow exponentially, resulting in office relocation to San Diego’s neighborhood city of La Jolla.
But why start the business in the first place?
Back in 2015, there were virtually no quality and affordable men’s t-shirt options available in the clothing industry. You could either purchase the uncomfortable, cheaply made, department-store basics, or spend a fortune on a single designer t-shirt that resulted in the biggest case of buyer’s remorse.
Matt and Melissa saw this issue affecting men of all lifestyles, so the couple set out to create affordable, comfortable, and fashionable t-shirts in a variety of colors and styles.
From crewnecks and V-necks to polos and Henleys, Fresh Clean Tees specializes in all kinds of men’s shirts. The company designs their shirts with a custom innovative fabric called “StratuSoft,” a super-soft material that aims to provide breathability and comfort — attributes many men’s t-shirts today lack.
Additionally, Matt and Melissa wanted to create shirts with a custom-feel fit. By taking advantage of their social media presence, the company takes regular feedback from both new and existing customers to design dimensional stability in their t-shirts.
However, as time went on, the duo wanted to become more than just a simple t-shirt company.
Putting the ‘Tee’ In ‘Sustainabili-Tee’
Upon founding Fresh Clean Tees, Matt and Melissa never expected to reach their current level of success. “Our primary focus was getting our concept off the ground,” writes the couple on their “Our Story” page.
But as the business grew into a significant clothing brand, Matt and Melissa looked to increase their sustainability efforts and eco-friendly practices.
The fast-fashion industry today is one of the world’s biggest polluters, and since the early 2000s, the global production rate of clothing has more than doubled. Additionally, the clothing production process results in the leakage of dangerous chemicals in the form of dyes and plastic additives into the ocean.
With its headquarters located near one of the country’s most notable coastlines, Fresh Clean Tees works to defend and support oceans ecosystems all over the United States. A percentage of each purchase from their website is donated to the Surfrider Foundation, a non-profit organization that aims to protect and preserve the world’s oceans while promoting clean water initiatives.
On the subject of encouraging sustainability, the founders say, “We are partnering with factories that are on board with innovating our products and manufacturing practices towards this promise.”
Experiencing Unprecedented Success Amidst a Global Pandemic
Before the pandemic, Matt and Melissa were shipping over 1,000 packages each month in 2017. Two years later, the humble business gradually gained $5 million in sales.
These statistics are undoubtedly impressive, but once the pandemic hit, the company’s annual revenue skyrocketed to $20 million. And with the growing popularity of casual wear among white-collar workers, Fresh Clean Tees saw a sudden rise in sales during the pandemic.
“COVID had an impact on all e-commerce brands,” comments Matt in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune. “People were unable to shop at the mall and unable to try clothes on at Target. It created an opportunity for brands like us to get our product in the hands of customers who may have been averse to buying things online before.”
As brick-and-mortar retail stores temporarily shut down in 2020, Fresh Clean Tees took to social media to grow their business. “Even though we’re an apparel company, we look at everything we do as if we were a tech company,” says Matt.
The company uses Facebook and Instagram ads and closely analyzes the data they gather to identify which marketing tactics work most effectively. With this information, the company can accurately determine how to promote its brand in a way that attracts the largest audience possible.
Establishing a Not-So-Basic Business Selling Basics
Built from the ground up, Matt and Melissa’s company took such a simple product and created an overwhelmingly successful brand, and more importantly, during one of the world’s most difficult economic periods.
Fresh Clean Tees dedicate themselves to designing comfortable and fashionable basics without breaking the bank — all while maintaining and promoting sustainability. As the company continues to grow financially, Matt, Melissa, and their 20 employees look to achieve bigger and better goals as a brand.