Jul 31

How we Teamed Up With Charlotte’s Hottest New BBQ Co. to Create Apparel Customers Will Buy!

By Ben Baker | General

A New Line of Apparel for A New Kind of Barbecue.

There's nothing our team loves more than working with organizations who have a unique concept and an open mind. A unique concept would be an understatement for our friends at Cornelius based, BarvecueIf you aren't familiar they are a company producing amazing barbecue with a slight twist. Their barbecue is plant based. That's right, no meat. Part curious and part skeptical I visited their new facility to meet Lee and Jeni Cooper. Read about the Coopers here. 


When I sat with them to discuss the vision for apparel and "swag" they had a couple of concept ideas, but needed help with design and product selection. Due to the amount of research and artwork required many companies would not be excited about a project like this. We see it as an opportunity to set our clients up for success and showcase the design talents of our art team.


After out art team developed 6 or 7 concepts the Coopers created a social media poll to gauge interest and narrow down selections. Since we developed the artwork we were able to provide them with images ready for Instagram and Facebook. We ended up with 3 shirt concepts and one cap option. 

Our first goal was to find a basic tee that would work for staff and resale. We were matching their original shirt design which is clean and easy to identify. The logo on left chest with icon print on the sleeve makes the shirt a classic. Their company is modern and trendy so we opted for Bella + Canvas' 3413c Unisex Triblend T in classic black instead of a standard cotton T. If you've never worn a triblend shirt before it's like wearing a cloud. They're so light and soft you'll almost forget you're wearing a shirt at all.

The second project was to find a 3/4 sleeve raglan shirt that was soft, comfortable and would work for both men and ladies. Raglan shirts (also known as baseball tees) are in style so we knew we could knock it out of the park. Lee and Jeni wanted to incorporate the word "Love" using their trademarked "V" icon from their logo. We added a tonal background pattern to add a little pop to the front. Instead of using the Barvecue logo on the back we decided to do a new design including the logo but also incorporating additional elements to fill the space. We chose the 6051 Triblend Raglan 3/4 Sleeve by Next Level which is a winner. We've used this shirt many times and it's always a great piece. 


The final design was to incorporate "Pig Out" prominently on the front of the shirt. Since their company makes awesome plant based barbecue we thought the saying was really clever. We wanted to create a design that didn't stray too far away from their brand or message so we used the 3413c Triblend Unisex T again in black heather which appears as a dark grey. 


After selecting designs and styles the last order of business was to select imprint size and colors for their shirts. For this, Lee, Jeni and their daughter visited our production facility to look view pantone colors, see their shirts being printed and shoot a little video for social media. We custom mixed their screen printing ink colors to match their brand guidelines and could not be happier with the way their project turned out. One of the best parts of working with Barveque is that they allowed us to put our spin on their concepts. With our help Barvecue now has 3 custom designs that appeal to a wide audience. To stay up to speed with Barvecue check them out on Instagram and Facebook


I'm sure you're wondering if we got to try Barvecue and if it was good. Lee and Jeni sent me home with two "to-go" boxes which include barbecue, two buns, sauce and slaw. As a barbecue enthusiast I've spent many days and nights beside the smoker. I know good barbecue but anything plant based is outside my wheelhouse so I called in the expert. My sister Madalyn (the BrandSpeed bookkeeper extraordinaire) has been vegetarian for nearly 12 years. I knew if anyone would be able to judge it would be her. 


Here's what she had to say:


" It tasted so  much like the real deal I thought my husband and brother had teamed up to play a joke on me. The taste, the smell, the texture - everything was dead on! Smoky, juicy, and delicious bbq! I cannot wait to get more ASAP."

Here's my bottom line about Barvecue. It looks, feels and tastes exactly like regular pulled pork. I have no idea how they do it but it's right on. The Coopers have big plans for the expansion of their brand and after my taste test I wouldn't be surprised to see it on a plate near any of us soon. 


At BrandSpeed we are experts in custom branded apparel and promotional products. We work with entrepreneurs, marketing managers, communication directors and others who need apparel or promotional products produced quickly and efficiently. If you have a project and would like our assistance please send us an inquiry here or call our office at 704.664.8337.


*Photos Courtesy of Barvecue, Inc., Jeni Cooper and BrandSpeed summer intern photographer extraordinaire Alexis H. 

Jul 15

Why I’m wearing a chicken suit on July 26th

By Ben Baker | General

Why I'm Wearing a Chicken Suit on July 26th.

If you have  known me for any amount of time, you know how dedicated I am to Rotary. The work our organization does in our community and around the world is mind boggling.  In four years with our club I’ve seen the difference we make first hand. On a local level I’ve volunteered at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen, assisted in grant writing to fund a new van for the Ada Jenkins Center and awarded multiple scholarships to outstanding youth in our community.


Last October I traveled to Copán Ruinas, Honduras with members of our club to bring change to the lives of an entire Chorti Indian village. There were many lives impacted on that trip, including my own.


Traveling to Honduras is fairly easy. The flights from Charlotte to Atlanta to San Pedro Sula were just like flying anywhere else. You take off, you land, you deplane. But that’s where the similarities stop. Upon arrival we met our driver who took us on a 4 hour ride to the home of Steve & Audrey Long, North Carolina missionaries who have served Copan for nearly 30 years. Driving in Honduras is much like being in a NASCAR race. In our case, it was a NASCAR race during torrential down pours through flooded areas. There are no lines on the road, no speed limits and no fear by anyone. I’ve been scared before but never for four full hours. At some point I decided to close my eyes and hope for the best.


Our first two days were spent working in a factory where we assisted in manufacturing concrete smokeless stoves. These stoves, designed by Stove Team International (www.stoveteam.org), bring revolutionary change to homes by providing a safe way to cook indoors. The stoves burn only a fraction of the amount of wood typically used and make very little smoke. Without these stoves, families are forced to build open fires in the middle of homes which is dangerous and unhealthy as there is a constant fog that is inhaled during the process.  Our club purchased 13 of these stoves which we were able to deliver to the Chorti upon completion of manufacturing.

The second resource we provided to the Chorti were water filters from Filter of Hope (www.filterofhope.org). Our club purchased 13 of these filter systems which provides clean water for up to 5 years. The filters are small and easily installed into a 5 gallon bucket making them extremely effective.

Our third day began with an hour drive in a convoy to the Chorti village with our stoves and filters in tow. Some of the pictures below were hard for me to take. Even today they are still hard for me to see. My first job out of college was to inspect houses for my family’s insurance business. I spent three years in all parts of southern West Virginia where I regularly saw the best and the worst my state had to offer. I’ve seen poverty in America and thought I was ready for this trip. But this was different.  

Our missionary Audrey has an exceptional friendship with the elder, Rosa, of the village. It was for this reason that we were able to enter her home to visit for a few moments. Sticks for walls, no doors and a shaky roof was the entirety of the dwelling. All items must be hung as there is severe flooding any time it rains. It had been particularly rainy in the days before we arrived so she was wearing no shoes. She told us she left them off because she only had one pair and did not want them to get muddy. We saw the shoes, which were flip flops. This home was not particularly better or worse than any other in the village. I would call it average.   

Because none of the villagers had a stove or water filter in their home we gathered everyone for a demonstration. We brought two instructors from Stove Team International who taught for around an hour. Part curious, part confused and totally excited, the villagers jumped in learn how to use the stoves. The ladies of the group patted out baleadas (tortillas) to cook, which were excellent.

Once we finished the stove demo we moved on to water filters. The photo below was from a moment that changed my life. The Chorti have no plumbing and no fresh water source. They collect water by using a rain barrel. When we took a bucket of yellow-ish dirty water from the rain barrel and ran it through the filter the water came out clear. When the glass of water was offered to the village, everyone hesitated. It took me a minute to realize no one was wanted to be the first to try the water because no one in the village had seen clear filtered water before. Finally, a woman stepped forward to try it. This photo was the first time that she had ever had a drink of clean water. The others reluctantly followed suit.


It’s one thing to hear about the great work that our Rotary Club is doing internationally but it’s another to see it first-hand. The total investment by our club for the stoves and filters was $3,000.  For only $3,000 we were able to bring clean water and a safe way to cook to an entire village of 13 homes. I know our club changed a lot of lives that day. One of the lives most impacted was my own.


I never had an interest in international service and was surprised to learn that half of the money our club raises helps abroad. The other half stays in our community being used for projects our club selects. Our club has no corporate sponsors and no big donors. We raise money through only four fundraisers each year. I’m leading our newest service project and fundraiser on July 26th, Project Chicken Chicken Chicken and we need your support.


On our website, www.projectchickenchickenchicken.com donors are able to buy meals and donate them to: (1) Veterans, (2) First responders, (3) Those in need. A portion of each sale stays with our Rotary club to do more work in our town and around the world. Our goal is to provide 150 meals to those in need at the Mooresville Soup Kitchen on July 26th. We’re running out of time and need all the support we can get. I’m asking for your help today. It is your support that allows us to continue our mission of improving our local community and communities all around the world.


Yours in Rotary Service,


Ben