Ask any Pittsburgher, and they’ll tell you, it’s a small town. A small town with a big reach.
Keirstin and Rob Townsend, co-owners of The Pittsburgh Shirt Company in Emsworth are a prime example of that reach. “We didn’t know each other growing up, but we both moved to Louisiana and met there through a mutual friend,” Keirstin Townsend said.
Keirstin, a native of Cranberry, had a background in screen printing and printmaking. But opted for a more “realistic” career path, earning a journalism degree in college. “I continued screen printing and printmaking all through high school and college,” she said. “I was always into it.” After college, Keirstin began teaching. “Everyday I would get up and tell my students to follow their dreams so I finally decided to follow mine.”
So she and her husband Rob, a native son of Wexford, opened The Pittsburgh Shirt Company. “Rob also had a background in printmaking and screen printing, he was always very creative,” Kierstin said. “And my family has always owned our own businesses.” It was a perfect fit. And a no-brainer to start the company in their hometown of Pittsburgh.
“We’ve noticed a beginning of a revolution in startups in Pittsburgh, so it really was the perfect opportunity.” The company, located on Huntington Avenue in Emsworth, is able to custom-create t-shirt designs on both a large and small scale. From hockey jerseys to family reunions. “We’re a smaller company so we can offer things like direct to garment printing, we can reach out to other startups and make smaller batches of shirts.
It gives them a brand identity and helps them find a place in the community,” Kierstin said. The couple’s love for Pittsburgh extends outside of the printing studio, frequently working with nonprofits and charities in the area like Habitat for Humanity and hosting local charity events. “We specifically make a point to work with nonprofits and other local businesses that are active in the community,” Keirstin said.
With Keirstin acting as CEO and Rob as Creative Director, the company focuses on the local with an added consciousness about the environment and doing their part to protect Pittsburgh’s natural beauty. “We are really conscientious, we work really hard to be sustainable very conscience about what materials we use,” Keirstin said.
“The environment is something that people in this industry aren’t very conscious about.” That symbiotic relationship between community, environment and charity sets The Pittsburgh Shirt Company apart from their larger counterparts. “We make an effort to shop local. When you shop local you reinvest in your community directly,” Keirstin said. “You’re paying for our ability to have a life and family.” This unique relationship highlights the importance of small businesses in Pittsburgh.
Keirstin added, “T-shirts start conversation. It’s a way to make friends from across the room. They can bring people together.”
See more of what the Pittsburgh Shirt Company has to offer by visiting their store below! Be sure to use The code PGHBEAUTIFUL and get 20% off any purchase over $25.