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T-shirt sales going strong after Black Forest fire

June 14, 2013 Updated: June 15, 2013 at 10:17 am
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The Wildfire Tees phenomenon re-ignited Friday as the team of local designers and marketing execs relaunched its popular T-shirt project to raise money for wildfire relief.

By 5 p.m. Friday - one day after their official relaunch - WildfireTees.com had sold $76,000 worth of T-shirts, or about 3,800 shirts. All profits from the sales will go to Pikes Peak Community Foundation's emergency relief fund.

The team, which formed after the Waldo Canyon fire, had hoped it wouldn't have to reunite. But when the Black Forest fire had devoured 360 homes by Thursday morning and displaced thousands of families, the team got back together and started cranking out new T-shirt designs.

"We would love to hit $1 million in sales," said Tucker Wannamaker, chief marketer at Magneti Marketing, one of the businesses involved in the project.

Last summer, six businesses -- Magneti, CoPilot Creative, Fixer Creative, Design Rangers, LastLeaf Printing and Jeremy Grant Creative - launched Wildfiretees.com to raise money for charities helping those affected by the Waldo Canyon fire.

The graphic T-shirt designs symbolized the sentiment of the fire and included designs that said "Spread Love like Wildfire," "Hold the Line" and the most popular one, a "C" with flames.

The team did all its marketing on social media and reached buyers around the world.

Within 24 hours, the group had sold $100,000 worth of T-shirts at $20 apiece. Inspired by the flood of orders, they made new designs, set up a way for buyers to give their T-shirts to first responders, and promised to keep the site open as long as people wanted.

By the end of the run, the group sold about 28,000 shirts and gave $300,000 to local charities, including Care and Share Food Bank of Southern Colorado, the American Red Cross and Pikes Peak Community Foundation.

"We felt really good about that," Wannamaker said this week. "We are so thankful so many people were able to give."

Austin Buck, a co-owner of CoPilot Creative, modeled the project after a similar fundraising effort that started in the wake of a wildfire in central Texas a couple years ago. He had hoped to sell 2,000 T-shirts.

Buck had enlisted other Springs designers and marketing experts to design the art for the shirts, set up the website and push out the project to all social media channels. The team put in hundreds of hours.

When the Black Forest fire roared over homes and property, the team had no reservations about doing it again, Wannamaker said. They wanted to help.

"This is why we did it in the first place - that was our mission," he said.

Buck designed a new version of the "C" with flames, and there are some other redesigns. All orders will start shipping June 24.

"It's a bummer that we have to do it again," Wannamaker said. "We are thankful so many people want to give."

To order, go to www.wildfiretees.com.

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