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Start Your Business Success Stories

How One T-Shirt Company Affects Social Change

Teddy the Dog
Credit: Ted Pidcock

According to Ted Pidcock, owner of apparel retailer Teddy the Dog, the company was created for the "pun of it." The brand is designed to be charming, creative, punny, humorous and entertaining. The company sells apparel, such as T-shirts and duffle bags, that feature graphics of dogs with witty captions. The designs are timely, topical and mostly silly.  

"Sometimes I like to joke that we are the Saturday Night Live of the apparel and gift business," said Pidcock. However, sometimes the brand gets involved in very serious matters.

In addition to its collection of humorous T-shirts, each month Teddy the Dog sells a custom offering of tees that support a specific cause and charity, with a portion of the profits going to charity. For example, November is National Military and Veteran Families Awareness month, so $3 of every item sold from this collection is donated to the Headstrong Project.

Teddy the Dog's philanthropic efforts don't end there. Following disasters and tragedies like Hurricane Harvey, the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Las Vegas shooting, the company has created custom tees and then donated 100 percent of the profits to help the victims of those tragedies.

Teddy the Dog's philanthropic efforts don't end there. Following disasters and tragedies like Hurricane Harvey, the Pulse Nightclub shooting and the Las Vegas shooting, the company has created custom tees and then donated 100 percent of the profits to help the victims of those tragedies.

Social responsibility is important to Teddy the Dog, and is becoming increasingly popular as consumers and employees look for brands that are effecting social change. Here's how Teddy the Dog became socially responsible and how other businesses, including yours, can follow suit. [Related: What is Corporate Social Responsibility?]

PAWS for effect: Teddy Gives Back, Teddy the Dog's donation program, started organically and expanded over time. It first started during the Sochi Olympics when they saw reports about the overpopulation of stray, hungry dogs.

A monumental moment, however, was when the Pulse Nightclub shooting happened in 2016. "It was an emotional reaction," Pidcock said.

"We felt emotionally charged to do something and to do something that really will help," he added. "So, when you consider something that occurred at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, you know, a lot of these kids were young people, and their family members weren't expecting them to die."

Teddy the Dog responded by creating a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase "Choose Love" that featured a rainbow-colored dog. They sold enough T-shirts to donate $41,000 to the Pulse Victims' Fund.

There are hundreds of reasons why people and business owners feel the need to give back. For Pidcock, it was because these tragedies struck a chord with him and his employees.

He recognized Teddy the Dog had an audience and an opportunity to make a difference. Pidcock understands that even though these campaigns don't necessarily convert to long-term sales, it's still worth doing.

"I think anytime you do good or send love, it only has a positive effect, whether that's in your business or in your life," he added.

"It has truly been gratifying to be able to help out people and say, 'Hey, this is something we believe in,' and to be able to take our customers' revenue and write out a check to these organizations in a meaningful way," said Pidcock. "It's really exciting to be able to do that."

Teddy the Dog has a team of 10 employees but can donate approximately the same amount of money as billion-dollar revenue companies. "It's nice that we have this tiny little company that's able to donate at the same level and have that meaningful impact," he said.

As most business owners know, you won't be successful at things you're not passionate about, and the same goes for social responsibility. If you're interested in doing your part, you should think about a cause that you're passionate about but that still fits your brand.

"I think you have to reach out to what makes you passionate as an individual and what fits your brand," Pidcock said.

When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, they created a "Texas Tough" T-shirt. The company donated the profits, $50,000, to the SPCA of Texas.

While Pidcock's philanthropic efforts span various causes and charities, he advised that business owners should follow their heart.

"At the end of the day when I'm retired and gone … my ashes are spread out at sea somewhere, at least I've been able to help out in a positive way," said Pidcock. "I think that any leader of any organization that is trying to do something or thinking along those lines would feel similarly."

Saige Driver

Saige received her Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Telecommunications from Ball State University. She is the social media strategist for Business.com and Business News Daily. She also writes reviews and articles about social media. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.