Stitches

T-shirt Design Spawns California Music Festival

Jeff Monser has been involved in screen printing since he was a teen cleaning screens for extra cash in his parents’ California decorating shop, Double L Designs. As a young adult, he was able to turn what had once been an unpleasant chore into a career path, his experience serving him well in screen-printing shops in Chico. Monser started designing his own T-shirts and selling them from his house. “I basically made a storefront on my porch,” he recalls. He tried to launch four unsuccessful clothing lines before striking gold with California Roots in 2006. “I came up with California Roots because I wanted to represent where I was from,” Monser says. “The roots are an anchoring point, like where I blossomed into a Cali boy.”

Monser initially made 100 shirts for the line, selling 40 the first day. “I realized this clothing line could take off,” he says. Monser started selling his apparel at music festivals and street fairs throughout the state, falling in love with their laid-back atmosphere. He decided to further the clothing line by putting on a California Roots reggae-rock music festival. In the six years since the festival launched, it’s grown rapidly, as has the merchandise store behind the three-day event. Last year, the Monterey County festival’s 40 performers drew a crowd of more than 30,000. Monser and other organizers of Cali Roots released a report noting that the festival raised Monterey County’s annual economic output by $12.1 million. As his mother, Debby Labrucherie – who handles all of Monser’s embroidery needs – says: “ It all started with a T-shirt.”