Berryville, AR — Sometime in the next few weeks, an unsuspecting customer at Sonshine Book and Gift Shop in Lake Jackson, Texas will purchase a very special T-shirt, according to Vic Kennett, CEO/President of Kerusso, the premier producer of Christian themed apparel in the US: the Ten Millionth Shirt produced by the company “Ten million shirts!” says Kennett. “Man, it just seems like yesterday that we were printing these out of my house. We are so blessed to hit this milestone and to celebrate our God-given success with our retailers and customers. Here’s to ten million more!”
Vic Kennett founded Kerusso in 1987 when he was just 23 years old. Starting with a family loan of $1,000 and only three shirt designs, the Kennett home soon became a factory, printing shirts using a four-color tabletop press and a homemade dryer set up in a spare room. In 1998 Kerusso began introducing other products such as jewelry, gifts and accessories.
Today the Kerusso campus occupies 10 acres which is home to over 65,000 square feet of manufacturing, shipping and office space. Kerusso’s growth rate has put them on Impression Magazine’s prestigious, annual top-50 list. Its products have received awards for artistic and technical merit, garnering attention from Inc. 5000 for two years in a row. Kerusso is also one of the top employers in Berryville, Arkansas, providing jobs to more than 100 people. Kerusso has donated millions of dollars and tens of thousands of t-shirts to churches, boys & girl’s ranches, women’s shelters, disaster groups, and other charities nationwide, most recently donating almost 20,000 t-shirts to victims of Hurricane Ike.
Sonshine opened in 1974 and now occupies 12,000 square feet of retail space, stocking the top 20% of merchandise that generates 80% of its sales. Owner Susan Moore states, “We focus on reaching people with Christ-centered product knowing that the products minister to their needs. We must be a strong business to support our ministry outreach, so Sonshine publicly upholds Christian principles in all business practices.” Sonshine is the largest full service Christian bookstore in Brazoria County and serves 80,000 people and more than 150 churches.
An apparel buyer for 11 years, Shane Newby has worked with many different companies and has seen Kerusso continue to stay on the cutting edge of trends, fashion, and value. “My family and I love to wear the Kerusso apparel,” says Newby, Buyer and Department Manager for Sonshine. “In fact, we have learned that keeping up with four kids can be challenging when in a crowd or at a park, so we have implemented the Kerusso ‘Keep Up With Your Kids’ plan. We recently purchased the Lifeguard shirt for each of our kids and we just keep them with us, so that anytime we are going to be in a crowd, we just throw on the matching RED t-shirts and it makes keeping up with everyone so much easier.”
Kennett believes t-shirts, the standard uniform for three- to 30-year-olds, are a great way to communicate the message of the gospel. Styles, design trends and color palettes change more quickly than ever, but using t-shirts as a clever way to share one’s faith does not change…the message is number one. According to Impressions magazine, a graphic t-shirt will be read as many as 3,000 times in its existence. “Even if every one of our shirts were seen and read by only 100 people each,” Vic says, “then we’ve helped to preach the gospel nearly a billion times.”