T-shirts with a twist: It's what's on the inside that counts

When the daughter of a good friend passed away in 2008, entrepreneur Scott Wilson could have sent flowers, instead he paid tribute in his own way, doing what knows best -- making t-shirts.

A clothing manufacturer in San Marcos, CA for more than 30 years, Wilson screen-printed a photo of his friend's daughter on the inside of t-shirts so the family could take comfort in keeping her close to their hearts.

Today, a year and a half later, what began as a thoughtful gesture has taken on a life and mission of its own. Wilson's newest venture, HeartThreads, a line of women's t-shirts with inspirational quotes printed on the inside has become a reality. The question is, will people pay for something no one else can see? It's sort of like getting a discreet tattoo -- without the needles! Or wearing sexy lingerie under a no-nonsense business suit. Will women be flashing their, um, messages?

Launched a little over a month ago, HeartThreads offers long-sleeve ($36) and short sleeve ($30) t-shirts (sized small -- XXL) designed in soft, pima cotton featuring four motivational themes: wisdom, faith, love, and inspiration. Messages such as "Karma: What goes around comes around. I will live my life with integrity and purpose," and "Live, love, laugh: words to live by. Live with purpose, love unconditionally, laugh out loud, I'll enjoy life every step of the way..." are two options.

Regarding inspiration, HeartThreads offers, "Success: Work hard. Have fun. And be kind. My reminder I have a choice." In the area of faith, choose from: "Celebrate: With God all things are possible," and "Hope: Give hope, share love and have faith. I will make a stand for a better life."

The T's are packaged in gift boxes with the messages shown on front. The package will also include a small book of affirmations. Business development director, Sara Pacell, and Joanne Domeniconi, chief discovery officer of Dailygrommet.com reviewed the new shirts and said giving one is like a personal exchange between two people, "It's like a greeting card."

In fact, Wilson said in an interview with WalletPop that he has been approached by companies such as Hallmark, who are interested in retailing the shirts. "I'm torn about whether I want to take it to a bigger arena, or keep it exclusive," says Wilson, "this was not conceived as a money-making venture ... it's a completely different thought process."

Currently, the shirts are available on his website, HeartThreadsclothing.com. Wilson said he wants shops that sell HeartThreads to have the right spirit and sensibility in marketing the product. Maternity T's (with messages printed inside, over the tummy), as well as a plus size line are coming soon.

"As far as I know," says Wilson, who is copyrighting and trademarking the idea, "there's nothing else like it." But will subtle sell? HeartThreads fan, Carol Knight believes it will, "Sometimes you just don't feel like wearing your heart on your sleeve, so what better way than to have a shirt that empowers you ... and not have to broadcast it to the moms at school or the grocery store cashier?"

Maybe what's on the inside does count after all.

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