Danielle DiBenedetto, a North Olmstead, Ohio, native and 2003 graduate, always knew she wanted to do something with graphics, but she also wanted to work in fashion. Inspired by the Victorian Era, the former art student researched this period and often came across the subject “proper tea etiquette.” Subsequently, in 2007 she launched Proper Tea Wear, a specialty line of T-shirts, cami sets and scarves packaged in oversized tea bags.
“I decided on Proper Tea because in my generation, proper attire is a T-shirt,” she says. “I thought it was the best way to showcase not only the fashion line, but give me the chance to put my art into it.”
In addition to art, DiBenedetto selects the fabric, designs the fit and works with a company in India that custom-makes the T-shirts to her specifications. “It’s a cutthroat industry, so I have to go with the best of the best, and everything has to be perfect because, being a graphic designer, everything is presentation.”
The T-shirts, made from super soft prewashed cotton, come in an assortment of tea “flavors,” ranging from raspberry to iced mint to calming chamomile. So far, the line sells in about 150 boutiques across the country, as well as Nordstrom and Las Vegas casinos such as The Bellagio, MGM Grand and The Palms.
DiBenedetto, who works closely with her mom, Karen, hopes to add a men’s and children’s line in the next few years. In the meantime, though, she’s happy to see her work getting nods from both local and national press.
“The best thing about running my own business is the creative freedom, she says. “I enjoy hearing people’s advice but, in the end, I love being able to create a T-shirt from concept to the finished product and have complete control of how I want it to look. It is amazing to create a label and see it in stores the way you envision it.”
To see more Tea wear, visit www.properteawear.com.