Photography by Brian Baiamonte
COMPANY SFT (Southern Football Tees)
POSITION Founder and owner
WHAT THEY DO T-shirts, apparel and gifts with a focus on game day and Louisiana lifestyle designs
ADDRESS 11843 Bricksome Ave., Suite C; ShopSFT.com
NEXT GOALS Expand current capabilities by streamlining production and sourcing local type manufacturing
ROOTED IN RETAIL
For Meredith Waguespack, retail has always been second nature. From her first job at a Chick-fil-A to putting herself through college by managing two separate stores at the Mall of Louisiana, Waguespack’s marketing and sales background serves her well as the owner of SFT, short for Southern Football Tees. Inspired by the success of New Orleans-based shop Fleurty Girl, Waguespack wanted to offer something similar in Baton Rouge. Initially launched in 2011 as a children’s clothing line with online sales, the brand has since evolved. Today, Waguespack’s mother-in-law and sister are involved in the business, which expanded to include a brick-and-mortar store in 2016, and its selection has expanded to include apparel and gifts focusing on Baton Rouge culture, game day experiences and Louisiana lifestyle.
FLOOD OF INSPIRATION
Though she had already been in business for about five years, it wasn’t until the August 2016 flood that Waguespack really felt her brand solidify. By designing and selling a Cajun Navy T-Shirt, SFT raised $50,000 for the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank. Waguespack says the experience taught her that she shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. “It was eye-opening to see how many people wanted to support Louisiana and that helped us create a well-defined brand,” Waguespack says. Working with her creative consultant and graphic designer, Waguespack looks for inspiration everywhere, whether it’s in classic Southern movies like “Steel Magnolia” or at the library digging for gems about Baton Rouge history.
DIFFERENT BY DESIGN
In recent years, fashion forward graphic tees have gone from souvenirs and occasional statement pieces to a staple for any casual-chic wardrobe. Baton Rouge isn’t short on boutique businesses offering their own locally inspired shirts and tanks, so Waguespack works to set SFT apart in a few ways. One, by building a community around her brand with a blog curating the hottest finds in food and fashion from local influencers. Her social media marketing strategy aims to tell the stories behind her design inspirations. And she offers the SFT Lagniappe Box, a themed subscription or one time gift box that curates products from local makers and includes a new SFT shirt each month. Along with online sales and the Baton Rouge store, SFT items can be found in about 40 boutiques across the state.
As a stay-at-home mom turned entrepreneur, Waguespack’s biggest challenge these days is managing her time in a way that allows her to work both in and on her business. Last year, she hired two part-time employees to give her more time to focus on expanding sales and marketshare through wholesale accounts, her online shop and the SFT showroom, which serves as both an office and a storefront. Waguespack dreams of having a showroom with her own printing shop in the back. Until then, she plans to continue getting SFT’s fun Louisiana wit into the community by participating in pop-up shops and events like Mid City’s White Light Nigh, and hosting her own “Girls Night Out” gatherings at the showroom.