Star Spotlight: Jewell Allen

Graphic designer Jewell Allen pursues competitive KC apparel market.


Senior Jewell Allen folds her t-shirts. Allen designs and sells these shirts with her sister. photo by Kat Mediavilla

by Katie Donnellan and Kat Mediavilla

story by Katie Donnellan

With a rising t-shirt industry in Kansas City, Senior Jewell Allen and her sister Emma Allen design and produce their own Kansas City t shirts. These t shirts have an appeal to locals with pride. The sister duo sells their shirts on etsy for $22 a shirt.

Dart: When did you start making t shirts and what influenced you?
Allen: “My sister and I have been wanting to start a business for a while. In my graphic design class I just started drawing and making designs. I came up with the “Kansas City local” design as a shirt for just Kansas City people that live here and have grown up here. I was just kinda sketching the design and that was a couple months ago. Immediately after that, we started screen printing the shirts and started selling them.”

D: Can you describe the t-shirt making process?
A: “I make the design and then my sister and I go out and buy t shirts from thrift stores because we really like to use recycled shirts.  Then that way, every shirt is unique and every shirt is different. We try to keep the shirts more neutral colored to keep the same aesthetic. We screen print the shirts ourselves. We make the screens at school and then I put paint on the shirt and screen it. We do all of the work ourselves.”

D: What are your plans for your business and the future?
A: “My sister is the business side and I am more of the design side of the business. We have contacted a couple places and we are waiting to hear back from them, like Westside Storey. And this next order I am going to be going to our favorite coffee shops and just giving them to the baristas there and telling them ‘Here’s a gift, wear it if you want,’ to get more of the word out. In college, I am majoring in graphic design. I plan on continuing this company in the future, maybe adding of blog of me and my sister’s lives and also adding more t shirt designs to the collection.”

D:How are your instagram and business connected?
A:“We [use our instagram] to create a market for ourselves and show ourselves on the account. We use it to kinda boost it. Our instagram account is “emandj”.  Our etsy account, which is where we sell our shirts is “emandjewell.” We will have more shirts up there this week because our first order sold out.”

photos by Kat Mediavilla

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Check out em.and.j on Instagram and buy a t shirt on etsy from Em and Jewell.