By Rich Stoehr, SanMar U Contributor
The history of America is marked by innovators and makers, people who started with an idea and worked hard to make something memorable. And what we produce, we take pride in knowing that somebody, somewhere will make use of in their own work.
This is the driving principle behind Tennessee-based apparel maker Volunteer Knitwear.
“People have pride about things made in America,” says Sara Thompson, Director of Brand Management at SanMar. A growing movement over the last several years has seen people paying more attention to where the products they buy are coming from and how they’re made. “A home-grown t-shirt speaks to that community,” adds Sara.
That’s what Volunteer founders Gary and Charles thought too — two guys with an idea to provide jobs to the local Tennessee community and create quality clothing proudly made in the USA. Starting with a new knitting machine in their pickup truck, they established Volunteer Knitwear in 1986 to fulfill that dream.
Sara says that the spirit of tenacity and innovation behind Volunteer Knitwear are the things that resonate most with SanMar. “They get to the heart of building your community and doing the right thing,” she explains, “and they’re always focused on quality.”
That quality comes through when you take a closer look at the Volunteer Collection – where the selection speaks to a wide range of possibilities.
- The Daily Tee is a lightweight and comfortable option that speaks to the craftsmen and women of America.
- The All- American Tee is a heavier shirt, constructed with the intention to be worn anywhere with the grit to get the job done, whatever it may be.
- The Chore Tee is a heavyweight tee built to last, up for whatever challenges lie in the day ahead.
- The Chore Fleece will be your new go-to choice when you’re looking for a hefty and durable fleece layer with a textured hand feel.
- And let’s not forget the Chore Beanie, an old-school and on-trend essential accessory for breweries, farmer’s markets and more.
Even the color selection speaks to the Volunteer vision – strong grey and navy tones, proud blues and reds, and brown and green colors that will be familiar to anyone who’s served in the US military.
Sara says that the appeal of Volunteer Knitwear, a veteran-owned company, to military veterans was important for her. “My dad is a vet and a member of his local VFW,” she says. “They do a lot of charity events and community outreach. That he can wear a shirt that reflects the work he’s still doing really connected the dots for me.”
America at its best is a nation of builders, of dedicated people who work together on different jobs but toward a shared ideal. “That’s the beauty behind Volunteer,” Sara says. “It applies to so many different customers and age groups. I can see it in a coffee shop, a retail setting, an artist studio, on a construction site. It reaches so many different groups.”