Designer Spotlight: Polly and Crackers

Derek Wragge, Polly & Crackers

Earlier this week I sat spoke with Derek Wragge, clothing designer and the owner of Polly & Crackers, a cool rising and unique clothing brand of wild t-shirts that aims to be a culture and not just another tee shirt company... to spotlight him and P&C. And what culture you might ask? Verge culture of course. (Verge Culture, as Derek explains it, is "the first generation raised with the internet. This group attempts to be defined by ideas rather than stereotypes. They are multi-cultural, tech-savvy, and fashion independent. Connected and innovative early adopters, these tastemakers lead the consumer market in music, fashion, technology, and lifestyles.")

So where is the company based?
The company is based out of Wilmington, NC. It’s a historic little beach city with a rad/hippie atmosphere. It also have a large film industry. It’s a great place to live.

Who would be your dream company spokesperson?
Any member from Ace of Base, Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin, or Chelsea Handler.

Any advice for aspiring fashion designers?
Go big or go home! The industry is absolutely crazy. Follow your intuition but be extremely innovative and creative while doing it. Also, have patience!

What's your name, and the name of your shop?
I’m Derek, designer and owner of Polly & Crackers

Where did you come up with the name Polly & Crackers? Did you have a parrot growing up?
No parrot (I wish) but the phrase kept preaching itself inside my head. I remember sitting naked on my porch, gazing at a sunlit swamp, and I felt like I was having a schizo attack. I kept hearing “Polly & Crackers” over and over in my head. I made the phrase “Polly & Crackers” into a tee, loved how catchy it was, and made it the name of my line. Naming the company was the last thing I did before opening. Ironically, the “Polly & Crackers” tee became our absolute worst selling shirt, however I still love the name.
"Good Samaritan" Tee by P&C

Where are you from?
I was raised in a small town outside of Buffalo NY, but I’d much rather say North Carolina. The thought of going back to or associating with Buffalo makes me a little nauseous. I was meant to be warm and by the ocean. 

Lot of attitude oozing out of your shirts, where does that come from?
I wanted the line to be open, blunt, fun, and unique. I try to live my life like an open book and I wanted my shirts to do the same. I wanted these shirts to be funny with an honest, “I don’t give a ##&!” type of attitude. Before P&C, there weren’t any shirt brands that were “dry” and witty with a clever lingo. Most companies produced “That’s what she said” type of unoriginal humor printed on oversized Hanes tees. Every P&C tee has Polly’s face printed in the neckline, includes an obnoxious hang-tag, and is printed on super soft, fitted cotton shirts.

What's the four letter word Polly is saying in the logo? (I'm assuming that's Polly.)
The idea is to interpret the “##&;!” however you like. It’s a pretty versatile phrase. For me, “##&!” isn’t even a word, it’s a squeal. Kind of like an obnoxious high pitched “EHHHHHHHHH.”

Do you have a bricks and mortar store?
P&C started just after college in my bedroom and I had three other roommates at the time. On day one, I fumigated the house while screen printing over the bathtub. I almost killed my roommates pet birds with the fumes. Since then, I’ve been in offices, closets, bedrooms, and studios. Right now, we have shop set up in a large garage. Out of the various places we’ve been in, it’s actually my favorite. Eventually, I’d like to open a print shop out of old, recycled train carts. I saw it being done in Costa Rica and loved the concept. I’ve also thought about opening up a tee & tank shop that has the theme of a nightclub in our legit beach town of Wilmington, North Carolina.

When did you launch your business?
We opened right at the beginning of 2010, about a year and a half after fumigating my roommates and their birds.

Above, the model is wearing the "Panda Bear Abduction" t-shirt. This trendy t-shirt in tahiti blue is made of an ultra luxurious cotton. You can wear it during the day and then put on the stilettos and rock it in the club!

I love all the witty and trendy t-shirts you sell. What was the inspiration for launching a t-shirt business?
“Local Celebrity” was one of my favorite tee companies growing up. I use to wear their shirts in High School and think I was the shit. When they didn’t hire me out of college, I knew exactly what to do next. I’ve always been an entrepreneur with an artistic side. The two merge pretty nicely!

What differentiates your shop from all the others on the Internet?
I think other places have a lot of cheesy humor and print on crappy shirts. I always searched for a brand that offered tees that were unique, fitted, and weird... and I really couldn’t find any. With P&C, I wanted to create an actual culture. I did this by using lingo, graphics, and connecting with our customers through social networking, events, and blogging.

How's business?
Business is great and we are in the “heat” of the season. Right now, we’re focusing on new designs, tanks, and getting into additional retail stores. Once summer is over, I’ll have some downtime to design more and really pump things up for Spring and Summer 2013.

What are the best times of year for t-shirt sales?
Mostly Spring and Summer, however the holiday season always hits us with a few surprises.

Where do you get your designs?
Most I draw on a digital tablet. Others are photos I’ve taken and photoshopped, paintings that I convert to a digital format, or an alteration of stock photos.

Where do you see your business in a year?
In a year, I see P&C with its full tank line out, in double the amount of stores, and blowing up all over! We also hope to donate more profits to charity and eventually form our own. I think it’s important to give peace and love as much as possible, whether it’s emotionally or financially. I want P&C to go far beyond making profits primarily for me and our creative circle. We love being able to give back.

What's your favorite design currently?
My favorite tee is “Radical,” however we have one coming out any day now that is now my new favorite. That one is called “Peace Baby.”

What are the top three selling designs at your store?
“Shots for everyone,” “Panda Abduction,” and “Shady Bitch,” are all bestsellers. “I love unicorns” and “Mom say’s High,” are also pretty hot.

Where can people find you? Site URL, Twitter, Facebook,etc.


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