When Alison Gildemeister left her role as a health teacher at Deer Path Middle School (a job she loved!) to stay home with her two young children, she knew her teaching days weren’t over.
“I always loved working on emotional intelligence with my students,” Alison says, “things like empathy, compassion, and self awareness. When these lessons really sink in, only good can come from them.”
In addition to teaching, there was also a part of Alison that wanted to start a clothing company. So one day she had this idea for printing up tee shirts with empowering messages. Her thought was that if she couldn’t teach in a classroom any more, maybe she could teach through clothing.
“At first, I would just print shirts with words and their definitions on them,” she adds. “Then, I’d make my children wear them to school. They were a hit with teachers and social workers.”
Realizing she had a winning idea, Alison googled “how to start a tee-shirt business in 24 hours” and literally did. She flipped the switch on Lion’s Share Apparel in the middle of January. The company’s name was inspired by Alison’s astrological sign, Leo, and the idea that if you get the “lion’s share” of anything, you’re getting the biggest and best part of whatever it is.
“It’s really amazing how fast this has all come together,” she says. “Just yesterday, I saw that someone from California and someone else from Colorado bought my shirts, and all I could wonder was who these people were and how did they find me?”
But this momentary musing also underscored what Alison suspected all along. “At my core, I know if I write something on a shirt that touches me and you read it and it touches you, it might spark a conversation or at least break down any barriers to us having one. This is my hope with Lion’s Share–that it helps people connect with one another and to see that we’re not alone in this world.”
Today, Alison is fielding requests daily for her well-priced, custom tees for women and children (men’s coming soon!), as her “Perfectly Imperfect” continues to be one of her website’s bestsellers. Even Alison’s young daughter Katie asked her mom to make her a shirt that had “Because I worked for it” printed boldly on the front.
This month, Lion’s Share is featuring “Find Your Brave” as a tribute to one of Alison’s close friends. Some of the proceeds from this shirt’s sales will go to benefit “Feed by Starving Children” in Libertyville.
“Lion’s Share is just my little way to help make good things happen in the world,”Allison says. “I’m not sure where this will all go, but I do know that there is room for all of us in this world and enough space for us all to do well.”