Our Story Page
I started working when I was very young and I had my own business. Topic Starter Tees is the result of a journey I started 49 years ago. The first job I ever had was working for myself. You can say I was an Entrepreneur or a CEO (Chief Everything Officer), however, I do not recall people even speaking that way.
I saw a need, did the research, found a mentor, made a plan, invested in my training, invested in my equipment, and then I executed that plan. I was a Shoe Shine Boy in 1969 in Brooklyn New York. I was 9 years old.
I remember all this quite proudly from my youth. I felt a sense of overwhelming pride being a contributing member of the family and helping out with the expenses. This was not the reasons I remember those times so fondly.
What really cemented these events in my long-term memory as I lived my life working for other individuals, organizations, corporations, and as a member of the U.S. Army (I participated in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm) throughout those 49 years. It was the look on my Mother's face when I came home that afternoon on the first Saturday I went to work for myself. I left a 06:45 am with my Chair, Stool, Small Whisk Broom, and my Shoe Shine Box and all the associated supplies. I had to get up that early in the morning to catch all of those Office Workers before they boarded the Elevated-Train from Brooklyn New York to Manhattan (all you Non-Yankees call it New York City).
What I saw on my Mother's face that infamous afternoon in the Summer of 1969 in Brooklyn was confusion, pride, and disbelief as I pulled out all my hard earned money from all my pockets, and my underwear and placed it all on the center of the kitchen table. My underwear is where I kept my Ten Dollar Bills. Mom immediately asked why did I keep some money in my underwears (with a very bewildered look on her face). I said I kept some money there just in case I got mugged, then I would not lose all my money.
This is when my Mom made that face, that face that stuck in my memory. In the next fleeting moments in her eyes, I just transmuted from a Boy to a Man. I even felt the shift in her demeanor and tone toward me before the end of that conversation.
My Mom just looked at all that money on the kitchen table for what seemed like one minute. She then counted the money and said, its $35.00, and then I said, I know. Then, my Mom did something I never would have expected. She asked me what I wanted to do with all my money. I said it is yours after I quickly grabbed 5 $1.00 bills and we both laughed out loud.
Just to let you know, in 1969 $5.00 was a lot of money. Three people could go to the movies with only $1.00, and buy the tickets, get 3-Popcorns, 3-Sodas, and still get change back. I also would like to add that I looked back at those very liberating and educational times with great gladness and purpose.
I will elaborate briefly on my process. I remember watching the Shoe Shine Boys for some time to see how they made money and what they did to get nice tips. I was able to strike up conversations with all of them. One of the older Shoe Shine Boys actually found a real job and intended to stop Shoe Shining. He said he would answer all of my questions about the Shoe Shine Business.
I bought Wood and Nails to build my Shoe Shine Box and all the necessary supplies, which included brushes, buffing clothes, and different types of shoe shine paste. There was more than enough tools and space at home to build my Shoe Shine Box. Yes, it took several attempts to get it right. My mentor even sold me his work Stool and his Client Folding Chair that I would also need for my business. I would work on every Saturday morning during the Summer Months as a Shoe Shine Boy. I also remember this because I would miss my favorite Saturday morning cartoons, Zandor and the Herculoids, Thundarr the Barbarian, and Space Ghost.
During the other months of the year, I did my regular part-time job after School and on the weekends, which was packing groceries and then carrying them out to the Customer's Cars for tips at the local Royal Farms and Royal Giant Stores (these stores were old fashioned types of Supermarkets, something like Publix or Winn Dixie).
After a lifetime of being a Working Class Drone and including my time in the Active Duty Military, I gleefully returned to my roots as a Businessman and working exclusively for myself. I feel I just shed the chains of living by another's rule. Now, when my body and mind is drained and exhausted from work I can actually smile about it again, just like I did when I was 9 years old.
I want this website to be a special place, a place where people can go to be treated honestly and fairly. I want my visitors to be able to shop with ease and confidence. I want the whole internet to know this is the place to find really cool, fun, unique. patriotic, and political t-shirt designs. I want Topic Starter Tees to be your friendly neighborhood t-shirt shop.