“I just said what I felt and put it on a t-shirt,” Natasha Dennis told Ha-Shilth-Sa News.
Natasha was fed up with the pandemic. “I hated what COVID did to family and friends and businesses and everything in this town.”
So she and her partner Bill printed the word “Fvck Covid-19” on a t-shirt and started wearing them around.
It’s no surprise that people loved them. But they didn’t realize people would want to buy their own.
“As soon as I had that first-person ask me if I can make him two t-shirts, we went back home that same week, and we were like, ‘We should just do this. We should just turn it into a business.”
And that’s how Billybeauty was born.
Natasha is a member of the Tseshaht First Nation, and Dennis is from Ahousaht.
The couple now has a storefront at 4567 Gertrude Street in Port Alberni. But getting to this point wasn’t always easy.
They started off by buying blank shirts from the dollar store. “There were a lot of mistakes,” Bill said. “We were trying to get printable vinyl. We thought we could use a regular printer to print on them…It did not work at all.”
But they kept trying until they found a system that worked. So now they print shirts using a process that cuts designs into heat transfer vinyl sheets. Now they print t-shirts and other clothes for people all over the region.
They also found a specialty designing shirts about local issues.
In September 2020, when the Tseshaht First Nation was fighting for fishing rights with Fisheries and Oceans Canada, they remixed their F-word design—but this time, the target was the DFO instead of COVID.
They’ve recently gotten a lot of orders for Orange Shirt Day. The only trouble is, the day has become so popular that they’re having trouble finding orange t-shirts.
The Dennises also bought Ladybird Engraving, which has added a whole extra set of products to the business.
And they aren’t done growing yet. They want to expand their business by adding more detailed silkscreening work. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of extra start-up costs with silkscreening, and you need big orders to make it worthwhile.
But the results are pretty awesome.”It’s really amazing the amount of detail you can get with silkscreening,” said Bill.
It’s nice to see new businesses succeeding after a tough year and a half. We’re pretty excited to see what Billybeauty comes up with next.
Check out their T-shirts online.