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Urban entrepreneur beats the odds through graphic T-shirt business

Photo by Tony Binns for Steed Media Group

T-shirt designer Edward Ark has been producing his unique brand of tee shirts in his brick-and-mortar location in Calumet City for the past three years. It’s a significant hallmark since prior to a physical location, the former gangbanger turned to making graphic tees, which he sold out of his car.

Tell us about your business.
I am CEO of Edward Ark Custom Teez. My brand manufactures tee-shirts, denim, [and] underwear for men and women. I started my brand in 2014, in my car in Englewood and the brand slowly moved to the local flea market. Before long, I started shipping T-shirts to 385 stores in the U.S. In 2012, I got my first store at 119th and Western Avenue. I started to save money for assets and other things to help grow the brand. I moved into a kiosk in River Oaks Mall for two years. I studied the people and the foot traffic, so after a year I got a small store in December 2017. It was nice but I outgrew it fast, so I moved to a larger space … and renamed the brand to Edward Ark Custom Teez. I studied comparable shops in the mall looking for a safe place to get good advice and quality T-shirts made. I’m still learning, but it’s a great look for the brand.

Talk about your work in costume design.
I’m working on a brand called Business Never Personal. It’s a man walking with a briefcase; [the] meaning of it is you don’t have to like the person you doing business with, [because it’s] Business Never Personal … don’t be an emotional hustler.

Who are some of your clients and how do they find out about you?
I have clients; they follow me on Instagram, Facebook and all social media from me hustling the streets: Instagram/@edwardark.

What would you say are some of your professional accomplishments as an artist?
I would say acquiring interpersonal skills and learning from experiences, and that success does not happen overnight.

For more information: [email protected] Merchandise may also be obtained inside the River Oaks Mall, 96 River Oaks Center Dr., Calumet City, IL.