Pillow Tees founder Chris Porter opens up about how he turned his crafty gifts into a business
Values Partnerships leads a nationwide casting tour for ABC’s Shark Tank that is focused on bringing more diverse ideas and voices to the show. In 2017, we’re hosting casting calls across the country, giving diverse entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch their businesses to appear on the ninth season of Shark Tank.
We also provide pitch prep, entrepreneurship resources, and access to capital discussions to entrepreneurs around the country, with the goal of every entrepreneur leaving our events better than they were when they arrived. At each stop, Brandon Andrews sits down for a Q&A with entrepreneurs from the casting calls and the organizations that support them.
On March 24, 2017, we visited Memphis, Tennessee, for the second stop in our nationwide casting tour. While in Memphis, we sat down with Pillow Tees CEO Chris Porter.
Brandon: What’s the Pillow Tees story?
Pillow Tees: The business started out as Christmas gifts to family members and close friends. I’m a crafter, and I make gifts for people every holiday season. That year I was laying on a really uncomfortable pillow watching soccer after a long day and it dawned on me that I could sew a much softer pillow. I put two and two together and started sewing pillows from T-shirts of friend’s favorite sports teams, memorable shirts of mom and dad, and all types of sizes. My mom and aunt said, “You need to make this a business because people need this!” So I went to work and launched Pillow Tees so everyone with a memorable shirt that’s stuck in the depths of a closet or drawer can be brought back to life.
Brandon: How does my T-shirt become a pillow? Walk me through the process.
Pillow Tees: Our website lays it all out for you. Once you pick a standard or mini size pillow and place your order, I’ll send you an envelope and a pre-paid label. You put your shirt(s) in the envelope, put it in the mailbox, and it comes directly to me. Now the fun part. I’ll cut your shirt’s design and add any accent colors or stripes you picked in your order while I sew. I line the pillow with high-quality linen, add a hidden zipper, and personally hand-stuff the pillow with a polyester/cotton blend making sure it’s plush and full. I safely ship it back to you and boom, plush memory. It’s an easy process, really. The hardest part is on you to decide how many shirts you want to become a pillow!