A common challenge with teachers is their low incomes and long hours of work. While many simply accept the work conditions for what they are, every once in a while someone comes along and defines the rules for herself. In this case, that person is Angela Coffey. EdupreneurToday had the chance to catch up with the teacher turned entrepreneur and learn more about what drove her to launch Teacher Tees, a new brand that is representing enthusiastic teachers all over the world.
ET: Tell me about your career in education before starting Teacher Tees?
AC: I began teaching in 2008. I was brand new to the profession all together having come from a retail management background. I wanted something more fulfilling out of my career and knew I wanted to ultimately work with children in some capacity! My sister, who’s also an educator, was the one who actually told me about the ACP programs offered here in Houston, which in turn sparked my interest to join an organization! I received my certification and began teaching 2nd grade in Aldine ISD. My very first year was extremely trying, but in retrospect, gave me the necessary tools I would need to succeed in education! I moved up to 4th grade the next year where I really found my niche and love for teaching! I taught 4th grade Language Arts for 5 years, and loved every moment of it! I stayed in Aldine for 3 years but needed to experience teaching in another district, so I moved to Katy ISD for 2 years where I picked up a wealth of knowledge! Although I loved what I was doing, I still wasn’t fulfilled. I always wanted more for my career in education, so I decided to become a skills specialist.
With nearly a decade of experience in teaching and lots of lessons taught and learned, Angela trusted her instincts and pasts interests in retail to give birth to a new dream.
ET: What inspired you to start Teacher Tees?
AC: I actually have always wanted to have my own retail business since I worked primarily in the fashion industry for a period of time! I’ve always had that love and passion for fashion! The idea came to me in my 6th year of teaching. I noticed there were t-shirt lines for fitness fanatics and other avenues but didn’t really see a huge market for educators! I began tossing around some ideas in my head with what I could do, and just like that, I had the idea to create a line of t-shirts that catered primarily to educators! On September 29, 2013, I eagerly launched my very first design, The Marriage Tee! The initial response was amazing! I then went on to create a variety of designs that were specific to content areas and teachers in general! Our shirts are more than just a tee! They are fashion pieces meant to inspire, build confidence, and motivate educators! Once of the greatest things a customer once said to me was, “Thank you for adding style to my school wardrobe!”
A career in fashion is one that is highly coveted but rarely publicly pursued. Angela found a way to live her fashion life and still be true to her interests in education. Sounds like a match made in heaven, but as with anything worthy of glory, launching a clothing line came with a new set of trials and challenges.
AC: The most challenging part I would say would have to be finding the time to devote adequate attention to my business. It’s difficult when you’re balancing a full-time job with an additional business, but the biggest help has been me actually prioritizing the demands of my business and career. I’ve also started to begin the process of getting additional help to assist with daily logistical matters so that I’m able to manage the balance.
ET: What has been your proudest achievement with owning your own business to date?
AC: Wow! Well, I’ve had many achievements thus far but will have to say my proudest will be the fact that my tees have been shipped to 47 out of the 50 states and outside of the United States to 3 different countries! It’s amazing the amount of support and loyalty I’m receiving from my customers! They are hands down the best!
Teacher Tees currently offers a variety of tees and totes. The private line will soon roll out more lifestyle products that accommodate the teacher lifestyle.
ET: What advice would you offer for teachers who are thinking about starting their own business and have not taken the leap?
AC: If you have an idea, go for it and remain focused! No one can stop you from going after your dreams and aspirations but yourself. I wouldn’t have started by business if I remained fixated on the “what if’s” without focusing on the “why not” It takes dedication and you have to believe in what you’re doing! You should also surround yourself with people who believe in you and people who motivate you! You have to have a great support team with you as well in order to successfully start and manage a business! Prioritize the demands of your business, career, and life, and in the great words of Nike, just do it!
You can find more information about Teacher Tess by visiting the “About Us” section on their website at: