Opening Hearts – Giving Big In A Small Business World
A local T-shirt company continues to make their mark in Baton Rouge as people purchase their shirts showcasing the spirit of Louisiana. But it is the company’s spirit of giving that is truly establishing a legacy of making a difference in the lives of others.
Meredith Waguespack started Southern Football Tees, SFT, in 2011 as a way to share her love for football. SFT’s original t-shirt designs were focused around just that but over time they have evolved into so much more.
“We’re more than just football t-shirts, we’re a collection of all things Louisiana,” says Meredith. “I think Louisiana is a very special place and I think a lot of people who either live here or who have to move away, want something to carry with them and represent the state that they’re from with pride.
A small operation with a big heart, Meredith was able to build a SFT brand that resonates with both locals and visitors of Louisiana. From the very beginnings of SFT, Meredith always believed in the importance of supporting nonprofits through her business.
“I think it’s important to, immediately right when you start your business, align yourself with somebody to give back. I think it’s an important way to get involved with your community and to get involved with something bigger than yourself.”
When the 2016 flood hit and impacted the community – as well as the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank – SFT quickly sprang into action. SFT’s designer, Sarah, created the iconic Cajun Navy t-shirt design and it quickly became a hit within the community. During the August 2016 Flood, SFT donated more than $50,000 to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank in honor of the 2016 Cajun Navy.
“We had always loved and appreciated what the Food Bank does, so we just knew that it was in line for us to give back to them because of all the things that they do for the community,” she says. “When the flood came, we decided to find a way to give back through the Cajun Navy t-shirt design and we were just inundated with sales – especially within the first 24 hours.”
Over the course of two weeks, they had more than 2,000 orders. Not only was this donation an amazing contribution to the Food Bank, but it was also a significant donation for a local, small business.
“It was just really rewarding to be able to do that, to be able to give back to the Food Bank and especially that amount. It was huge… I am always shocked and still amazed, for what this shirt has done,” Meredith says.
Since 2016, SFT has continued to donate to the Greater Baton Rouge Food Bank and has continued to be supportive during recent natural disasters. The Cajun Navy tee has now helped to bring in donations of over $80,000. With the support from small business just like SFT, the Food Bank is able to continue to fight hunger.
Going forward, SFT has merged with Sweet Baton Rouge to be a one-stop shop for all Louisiana lifestyle apparel and accessories. Meredith says she also hopes to continue to align her business with the Food Bank to help with natural disasters.
“Wherever the Food Bank in Baton Rouge is going to be pulling their resources to go somewhere, we want to be the brand that can help.”
You can find out more about SFT, now known as Sweet Baton Rouge, by visiting sweetbatonrouge.com or on Facebook and Instagram.