Shirts are stacked up in clear Sterlite containers seven feet high, clipboards are laying around everywhere to make sure no order gets lost. Tory Krebs, mother of sophomore Ben Krebs and junior Will Krebs, scans her email for new orders. Will, is futilely trying to make it in one trip, lugging an armful of boxes to and from the back of his mom’s Chevrolet Suburban. Tory and Will then drive around the local area delivering merchandise to each customer.
All Things Athletic is a local apparel company that aims to provide high quality spirit wear at an affordable price. ATA sells their merchandise to many different local schools and businesses while a percentage of the revenue goes back to those schools and businesses.
ATA began three years ago, when Krebs teamed up with East parent Sarah Clark, marketing their merchandise under the slogan “crazy good gear.”
The cheerleading team was the first group to have spirit wear made. Clark was working directly with the cheerleaders and it was a natural fit to provide them with the gear and designs that the girls were wanting, while also receiving a percentage of the revenue back to help pay for whatever they needed. Krebs and Clark decided that this contribution was an effort-free way to give money back to benefit cheer.
“Funding for athletics is very limited in the State of Kansas,” said president of the East Booster Board John St. Clair. “The revenue we have received from our spirit wear has helped significantly.”
ATA’s goal is to benefit the groups by selling spirit wear. At East, the Booster Board receives the extra spirit wear money. Last year the Booster Board received thousands of dollars from ATA sales. The money went straight to the athletic teams at East as it is important to distribute that money right back out so the teams can benefit right away, according to St. Clair.
After the cheer team displayed their gear on game days as part of their uniform, other clubs, parents and students from East noticed the design and quality of the spirit wear and contacted ATA to design merchandise for them. Krebs and Clark saw the need for generic, non-sport specific spirit wear. The next fall began selling standard Lancer T-shirts, belts, sweatshirts and bucket hats the next school year.
“We try to design spirit wear that people not only will like, but will wear with pride,” Clark said.
It was then that Krebs and Clark realized that they had the ability to create spirit wear not only for East, but outside the of the district. In order to make the company more accessible for customers, they created a website with most of the merchandise.
ATA receives orders through email or in person. They print spiritwear for local country clubs, high schools, elementary schools and corporations. ATA also receives many custom orders for special events like high school dances, family reunions and spring break vacation groups. Krebs and Clark sell merchandise on East’s fee payment day, meet the coaches night, different sports events and anywhere else where East fans may be ready to buy new spirit wear.
Krebs and Clark have several local screen printing and embroidery facilities that they use to print all their merchandise. Krebs drives 25 minutes from her home in Prairie Village to one of the manufacturing facilities at least once a day where all the raw materials, like blank T-shirts and hats, are shipped. She double checks all the recent orders to see if the merchandise is in the correct size, color and amount. To make sure that nothing gets messed up, a proof, which is an example of each item is made.
“The manufacturing facility is the second largest in the midwest,” Krebs said. “We share the equipment with several local vendors.”
To help the two keep up with trends, East students help with graphic design ideas for merchandise. ATA is always looking to employ students designers who are familiar with Adobe Illustrator who can make shirts for various groups. Sophomore John Roney comes to Krebs with ideas based off what his peers feel that are popular and would wear the most. A proof is made of that item which usually takes two weeks to produce.
“I try to come up with ideas that are classic and people will have for a long time,” Roney said. “We also use comfort colors, which is not cheap and gets softer after each wash hoping that will increase sales.”
Senior Audrey Dickens also helps design different T-shirts for various groups. Dickens has made shirts for Shawnee Mission South High School Swim and Dive and East varsity cheer.
“Since I wear All Things Athletic, I know what I would like to see on my spirit wear,” Dickens said. “Also being involved in activities that utilize spirit wear has helped me since I can listen to others and their feedback.”
Krebs and Clark are currently designing merchandise for East spring break in Seaside, Fla. and other custom orders. ATA continues to expand their business market while still providing “crazy good gear.”