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How CWD Started…

Do you ever wonder how or why I decided to start a custom apparel business? Even if you answered no, you may still be interested by its story.


Honestly, it was sort of by accident. I always wanted to have my own business, growing up I watched a lot of my family members run their own, and I loved the idea of it. My grandma had her own restaurant, my aunt and uncles owned (and still do) multiple businesses, and several family friends had their own as well. I just loved the idea of it!


In my elementary, middle school and high school years, I spent a lot of my free time being crafty and creative with my friends, my grandmas and my mom. Scrapbooking, making DIY projects at home, baking, joining 4H and making lots of projects to show at the fair... I always knew I wanted to do something creative! When I joined the yearbook staff and school paper for a class in high school though is when I started realizing I kind of liked photo journalism, and was interested in photography. I took a few high school and college online photography classes and I noticed I liked the photoshop aspect more than the photography itself. I leaned towards photo journalism for a bit, but I wanted to stay living around home and it wasn't the best occupation for where I live. Finally, two of my teachers made me realize maybe graphic design was something more for me! I dabbled in it a bit and I really liked it, but there were so many routes you could take with it!


I decided to gear my college classes towards business, graphic design and marketing. During high school and college I worked at a local pizza place called Legend's . I had the best coworkers and bosses there! Yet another place I kinda found my interests. No, not the pizza... lol. My boss, Renee, was so good at designing! She even printed all of our employee t-shirts herself. I thought that was so cool! This is what really got me interested in the printing industry. Finally, one Christmas, my parents bought me my own heat press! I started making shirts right away just for fun and as people saw them they wanted to buy some. It seriously has not quit growing from that day on.


Once I saw I could make money doing this and the high demand, I decided to make my business official. I went with the name "Carlee Whitaker Designs" because I already had a Facebook page for my graphic design ads and posts I was doing for others, so I just switched it over to full on apparel printing. And it stuck ever since. I always wanted a more creative business name, but I had several other entrepreneurs say that they liked that I put my name to it, because then everyone knows who you are and who it is behind the business, rather than wondering who really runs it. And that my name is unique to me. Which is true!


I am now on year 6 of this business and I am so excited to watch it continue to grow and which directions it will take in the future. Time has flown by, and looking back on my first projects, I have grown so much and added so many new techniques and products that I never thought I would be doing. I hope you stick around with me for the years to come!

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