A few months ago, “06880” profiled Ted and Stephanie Vergakis — the local couple whose “Townee” line of Westport-themed apparel (short- and long-sleeve T-shirts, hoodies, fleeces and rally caps, for adults, kids and toddlers) — was beginning to take off.
One of the best parts of the months since, they say, has been connecting with customers who love the same-day (and free!) delivery, quality and comfort.
Those same customers are not afraid to offer suggestions.
Ted met one — Maury Wind — for coffee, at the ultimate “townie” place: Coffee An’. He suggested taking the Christmas lights off the image of the Cribari (Bridge Street) Bridge tee – and making it more colorful overall.
Maury Wind, in his “Saugatuck Uni” tee.
Maury’s feedback inspired Ted and Stephanie to add a “Requests” section to their website.
“We want to hear from everyone,” he adds. “No request is too big or too small — a onesie for the newest Westporter, or 50 tees for your summer clambake. We can’t fulfill every ask, but we’ll do our best.”
In other Townee news, they’ve hired 3 Staples students as brand ambassadors. Cole Schuster, Bella Jagenberg and Garcia Lopez will cruise around town, passing out stickers, magnets, even free tees and tanks.
“They tell us what’s cool, and what they think people will and won’t like,” Ted says. “It’s insightful and inspiring to have the point of view of smart young adults.”
The Townee street team (from left) Cole Schuster, Bella Jagenberg and Garcia Lopez.
One more bit of news: Joey’s by the Shore has signed on to carry a few pieces.
Next up: tees with local logos, like the Duck and (as homage) Oscar’s.
“I’m not short on ideas,” Ted says. “I’m sure your readers have a lot too.”
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.
Ted and Stephanie Vergakis.
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.
Ted and Stephanie’s Westport hoodie.
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.
Townee’s sparkling Saugatuck Bridge t-shirt.
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.)
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