Last summer, Ted Vergakis was on vacation in California. He saw someone wearing a simple T-shirt, with 2 words in beautiful script: “King’s Highway.”
Ted’s a Westporter. He had no idea what the shirt referred to. It could have been “a San Diego biker gang,” for all he knew.
No matter. He wanted one.
His oldest son Theo went to Kings Highway Elementary School. His youngest son Alecko is a student there now. The family calls it “a special place,” and seeing those words crafted on a T-shirt seemed both cool and rare.
Ted realized that though there are places to buy things that say “Westport,” they don’t feel as if they were created specifically for here.
So he and his wife Stephanie decided to create a hand-drawn script for Westport, and a unique illustration that can’t be found anywhere else in town.
This was not a total stretch for the couple — but not exactly what they’d been planning either.
Both grew up in small Massachusetts towns. Both started their careers in advertising, managing creative departments and producing campaigns.
Stephanie went on to work in fashion, at Donna Karan. Ted spent several years running the global creative group at IMG — with clients like the Olympics, NCAA, sports stars and models.
Now they run their own studio, called Offmad. They provide creative and strategic support to clients like Kayak.com, PwC, Vroom and others.
Their route to Westport — via Manhattan and Hoboken — was similar to others’. When they felt the need for more space, and realized the commute would be longer, they wanted someplace special.
“More of a destination, not just a suburban town,” is how Ted describes it.
Work colleagues suggested Westport. On weekend trips here, Ted and Stephanie “pretty much knew it was the perfect place.” They loved it all: seeing houses in the morning, then lunch at the Mansion Clam House, a trip to the Compo Beach playground, a stop at Trader Joe’s.
“We were really taken by how much at home Westport made us feel,” Ted says.
“It felt very New England and familiar. We both loved where we grew up and vacationed — Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard. Westport really reminded us of all those special things from home.”
But — like most Westporters — when Ted had his aha! T-shirt moment, he also realized that Main Street has become flooded with retailers that do not offer anything authentic and Westport-special.
So he and Stephanie decided to partner with skilled designers and illustrators. They wanted to celebrate their town, and the artists who created its legacy.
Creating the sparkling Saugatuck Bridge illustration for their “Townee” apparel — which now includes short- and long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies, fleeces and rally caps, for adults, kids and toddlers — was particularly important.
“I don’t think there’s a soul in town who doesn’t love the way the bridge looks during the holidays,” Ted says. “It’s perfect from every view — from 95, driving over it, walking through it.”
As for the company name, Ted says, “We think being called a townee is a compliment — a badge of honor. It’s someone who knows the best things to do, see, when to go places.
“Loving where you live makes you a townee. We all spend so much time here doing normal day-to-day things. We want to remind others of how special Westport is.”
Their reminder: a line of high-quality apparel that’s comfortable, can be worn every day, and shows the pride people have in their town.
Townee launched last month. You may already have seen folks wearing Ted and Stephanie’s gear.
Just call them townees.
(Ted and Stephanie offer free delivery to all addresses. For more information — including ordering — click here.)