Interview with a Maker - Lisa and Adam Gilson of Giltee
This wife/husband maker team is one of our favorite duos!! Their product speaks for itself and our every encounter with them has been nothing short of fantastic. To give you an idea of the type of people we are talking about here a short story is in order:
Lisa and Adam were vendors in store for the month of July and were in Sun Prairie the night of the explosion downtown setting up their booth and having a night to themselves for their anniversary. Although they are not from Sun Prairie and previously had no real connection to the city, they VERY generously donated a percentage of their sales in store that month to the Barr Family.
There are many un-sung heroes from that day, and we are proud to be associated with people like Lisa and Adam who in a time of disaster showed us how AMAZING the support of our community can be!
Okay.......now that we got that our of the way, lets jump right into the interview!!
· What do you Make/ what is your business all about?
We make community inspired apparel. Adam focuses on creating designs that are clean and simple, yet creative – that highlight the fabulousness that is Wisconsin and the communities within it. Lisa loves finding unique, high quality apparel that bridges style and comfort – the things you want to wear everyday. Your go-to gear ;)
· How did you get started?
From the beginning, Giltee has been a family project. When we were expecting our second child, Adam began teaching himself how to screen print in the basement of our home. At first, it was just a fun little side project that let Adam—a designer—flex his creativity. He began printing on super soft, premium quality tees that were not only comfortable, but also looked good. We started wearing them (all the time). Then our friends and family wanted to wear Adam’s tees and eventually random people began asking us where they could get one – and so it began. Once we made the decision for Lisa to stay home with the kids, the business began to flourish even more. Lisa went from a stay at home mom to a work at home mom quite quickly. We now offer our apparel online, at local markets and at nearly 20 stores across Wisconsin. Adam and Lisa work as a team – and are fortunate to also have their kiddos, friends and family by their sides as well.
· What's your biggest SUCCESS this far?
Our first feeling of success was when we signed up to sell our apparel at a local event on a whim. Before we left the house the day of the event, we said if we sold 20 shirts we would call it a win. We went on to sell well over 100 pieces that day. Beyond our sales, it was a super special day for us because we were surrounded by friends and family. Many of those closest to us, came out to help run the booth, spread the word and have a good time. It was a day filled with a lot of support and love! Since then, we’ve continued to cherish other highlights of our business such as being featured at Summerfest and with the Bucks, expanding our brand throughout more and more cities in Wisconsin and building relationships within the communities through working with local businesses, artists and organizations.
· What's your biggest Failure?
Our greatest challenge has been finding a balance. GILTEE started as a hobby and has become a business that we are beyond grateful for. With two young children and Adam’s full time job, figuring out how to manage our time and still grow our business has been challenging at times. We continue to put family first and try not to overreach to maintain high quality and service - two things we pride ourselves on.
· What do you love the most about making/your business?
We have so much fun! Working together to create apparel that we see our customers love has been amazing. We are lucky enough to have amazing friends and family who come out and work local markets with us, design with us, support us in any way they can and are die hard GILTEE fans (they may be bias - but nonetheless).
· What is your business Super Strength?
Quality and service are so important to us. I think our personalities and passion are in everything we do. We are excited about what we make. We love doing this! I think that our customers keep coming back because they are confident that they are getting premium quality apparel and that we are always doing everything we can to make sure they are more than happy with their purchase!
· What advice do you have to those makers/ entrepreneurs afraid to take the next step?
If you love it - do it. We’ve found that our passion has driven much of our success. We’re crazy about what we do and I think that comes across in our brand.
Start small and see how it goes. Find what works for you and let it roll!
· What is your spirit animal and why?
Well - I was thinking an animal that lives in the ocean as being near water makes me feel oh so happy - but I decided to take a quiz to answer this question and the result was - an elephant. I’m still laughing that one off.