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Amy Jo Malone of t’inked: “Why I am at my happiest when I am an entrepreneur”

[Entrepreneur Amy Jo Malone]

I am at my happiest when I am an entrepreneur. For my personality and lifestyle, it offers a certain freedom that I don’t experience under any other conditions or circumstances. Aside from the obvious of going to an office, and the restrictions of that, the office politics, etc., I can research, design, draw, and learn at any time, which I do. I can switch tactics, take my time editing, make decisions that are based on my criteria and timing.

Amy Jo Malone knows that every business begins with an inspired idea, and a passion to turn that plan into a burgeoning business.

This is why Malone, a true visionary entrepreneur, recently launched t’inked, an online T-shirt business to tap into her creative energy.

The former owner of Amy Jo Jeans, this Chicago-based powerhouse wanted to “design, build, and learn” while rolling up her sleeves (literally), working hard, and contributing to her household.

Her previous company Amy Jo Jeans was started in 1999 when the internet was moving at a slower pace, and it was still undergoing growing pains when it closed in 2004. Her new venture, t’inked is an entirely different type of company because of the product type, but also due to the execution and marketing.

Malone is excited about the success of her new brand and being able to “reinvent the little white tee.” She promises that “you won’t find a tee like t’inked anywhere else, because we believe in telling a story through wearable expressions, simply and playfully.

“I have chosen the best quality products (short-and-long sleeve tees and sweatshirts), and the highest-rated company to produce my orders,” Malone explains. “By not having to maintain an inventory since the printing is on-demand, the cost of my investment is minimalized.”

She explains that “we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do draw inspiration from current events, culture and art, as well as our surroundings, and the internet. We hope you will find your story to style just your way.”

Here is a look at Malone, the creative vision behind her new business t’inked, and what Medium/Authority readers can learn from this hard-working entrepreneur.

Amy Jo, what are you enjoying most about your exciting new business venture?

Amy Jo Malone: I like that I have control over the whole process and end product. Having been a Design Director, and from my experience with Amy Jo Jeans, I am big on efficiency, scheduling deadlines, and delivering a perfect end result. It’s hard to place these tasks in someone else’s hands. So, I think it would be that I am a control freak when it comes to my work/product.

What were the biggest hurdles during the COVID-19 shutdowns?

Frankly, I didn’t have hurdles during covid, because people are buying online and not going into a shop, which kept the door open for me. Also, the products are not luxury, but simple and unique. They’re affordable and wearable in so many ways, so even just being at home, it is an easy way to feel groomed and ready.

What is your personal and professional mission, philosophy, or goals?

The mission I have had from day one was to create a product that isn’t out there — and if there is something close to it — mine is more unique, better quality, and at a better price. It may take slightly longer to receive because of the on-demand setup, but you won’t find it anywhere else.

What is your happy place?

I am at my happiest when I am an entrepreneur. For my personality and lifestyle, it offers a certain freedom that I don’t experience under any other conditions or circumstances. Aside from the obvious of going to an office, and the restrictions of that, the office politics, etc., I can research, design, draw, and learn at any time, which I do. I can switch tactics, take my time editing, make decisions that are based on my criteria and timing.

Why do you feel this way?

I would say it is because dressing has become so casual, my goal was to create something that could be styled. This is about an item that could be reinvented, would express individuality, i.e., wear with a blazer, leather jacket, skirt, plaid pants, or alone. In essence, giving creativity back to the customer.

Please share your life lessons with my readers.

A big one. I have learned almost everything from my family. From my late brother, Johnny Jursich, a will to move on; my late father, John Jurisch, that independence is strength, hard work, continue learning; my late mother, Gloria Jursich, open-mindedness, gentility, kindness, just doing it, from my sister, Susan, her ability to reinvent herself many times — not to get stuck, self-reliance, advice, and exploring creativity in other areas, and the optimism of my husband, Ted Malone, who owns his own business, Malone Maintenance, in which he maintains the equipment for industrial companies.

Is there anything else you want to share about how you were impacted by your loved ones?

I would say that the support and witnessing of their independence and entrepreneurship influenced me as a person and business owner. Not so much the dos and don’ts, because I learned those lessons on my own, and the hard way, but grit, hard work, confidence, thinking for oneself, knowing when to seek help, asking questions, and knowing that I don’t know everything opens me up to the world, and my small place in it. That has been their effect on me.

What else have you learned from your two businesses?

It takes a lot of grit, hard work, confidence, thinking for oneself, knowing when to seek help, asking questions, and knowing that I don’t know everything opens me up to the world and my small place in it. That has been their effect on me.

What are you enjoying most about t’inked?

The creativity, the likes, followers, and the sale!

Tell me about your work ethic.

My work ethic is this: work hard. Period. Then, always research and continue learning. Pay attention, and remain open to new ideas, ways of doing things, and competition. I’ve been employed since I was15 years old, so work is very familiar. I have always worked. But I haven’t always enjoyed it. Now I am enjoying the work, its processes in getting from point A to point B, and navigating a new world in social media.

What is the role of social media in your new business?

Social media plays the biggest role in getting the product out there. I don’t have to hire and pay reps — it is all based on social sites and apps, advertising, networking, influencers, family, friends online. There is still a cost for advertising and influencers, but the reach is much broader and varied.

[Amy and Ted Malone after their wedding in Aruba]

What do you enjoy about living in the Chicago area? Do you have favorite places?

I love Chicago! It offers so much culture, great food, beautiful scenery and art, art, art! I lived in the city for over 20 years, and I loved being able to walk everywhere and do everything within a three-block range, and wider if I chose. Making friends and knowing business owners was so easy and enjoyable. I felt part of a community. Some of my favorite places are the Art Institute of Chicago, Steppenwolf Theater, and walking along Michigan Avenue.

What else can you share about your affection for Chicago?

My old neighborhood park. It was across the street, and a friend and I used to bring a blanket and wine and sit with my two Shih Tzus. My neighbors would come home from work, and sit and chat with us, bring their own drinks and we would have a little group before you knew it! We’ve gotten to know everyone, and my pups and I became the center of the neighborhood. There was such a diverse group of people, and everyone was a friend.

How do you enjoy spending your free time?

I love to read, paint, walk, ride my bike, and enjoy nature.

How does it feel when someone gives you positive feedback about your shirts?

I love when someone likes what I have created! It makes me feel like I’m really not in my own head — that my ideas are accepted.

Please share your advice with those who are inspired by your story.

My advice to female entrepreneurs would be to research the competition, ask yourself what is different about your service or product. Generate a plan — steps to becoming a business owner, steps in producing a product, or introducing a service. Identify the image and feeling you want to put out to the world.

Please share your website and social media.

Website: https://www.t-inked.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/igottinked

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/gettinkednow/

Email: amy@t-inked.com

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Debra Wallace

Debra Wallace

Writer, autism activist, motivational speaker; all with the intent of improving the world one story at a time.

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