Bowling Green’s Bluecotton Expands Its Custom Apparel From Sea to Shining Sea.

by | Apr 2024

NEARLY EVERYONE has a drawer full of T-shirts, and in almost every T-shirt drawer are shirts that haven’t been worn in years. That’s the power of memories, and fostering those memories is the goal of BlueCotton, Bowling Green’s own custom apparel business.

The business had a humble start. In 1991, two recent Western Kentucky University (WKU) graduates found themselves with an excess of T-shirts and a few too many bills. They started selling the shirts to sororities, fraternities, WKU, and other universities. BlueCotton apparel can now be found coast to coast. Their home base is still Bowling Green, and Director Julie Denton-Price said seeing their work “in the wild” makes things just a little bit more meaningful.

“It’s just very gratifying that when we’re here, we get to see the work we do,” Denton-Price said. “We’re doing that all over. We just don’t get to run into it every single day.”

Employees might see their work in the grocery store, at a wedding, or a Little League baseball game. Almost always, Denton-Price said, the event has some meaning behind it.

“It’s custom apparel, so it’s usually for an event, and usually that event has some meaning behind it,” Denton-Price said. “T-shirts mark the memories of our lives, and we get to be a part of that every day.”

All shirts ordered through BlueCotton are made in Bowling Green at the company’s 100,000-square-foot warehouse. Every employee is a part of the community, and Denton-Price said the company works hard to keep that community feeling inside the business as well. Alongside their core values of being customer-centered, having integrity and character, and maintaining growth and profit is the value of fostering a fun, family atmosphere.

“When you start out, everyone is very tight-knit. You hang out together outside of work and know everything about each other. But I would say that hasn’t gone away completely,” Denton-Price said. “When Mike, my partner, first started [BlueCotton], he would have the team over to his house for dinner, and their Christmas parties were at his house. And while they can’t do that now, [what] a lot of our team truly cherishes of our core values is that family atmosphere.”

There have been quite a few initiatives to benefit employees, the most recent being the company’s Bitcoin initiative. Through the program, employees who remain until 2027 will get a payout at no cost. BlueCotton paid for the entire thing.

“We just think it’s a way to also enhance their lives, change the trajectory, give them a stake and an asset, and something that they maybe wouldn’t have been able to do on their own,” Denton-Price said.

Most BlueCotton employees come in with no experience and are trained on-site. Denton-Price said the company works to help its employees have security and become good community partners and leaders, even if that means teaching them to manage finances. Even if an employee’s need has nothing to do with the business, it will inevitably bleed into their work. That effort to help people grow is something Denton-Price said she and the CEO are very proud of.

“We want to help see those needs and meet those needs. It’s not us taking care of it for them; it’s us helping them develop skills to manage on their own,” Denton-Price said. “Whether they stay or whether they leave, they are better because of the people they worked with here, the opportunities we provided them, and the support that we give them in the areas where they need it.”

There has been immense growth in the decades since BlueCotton was founded, and the company has big plans for the future. Denton-Price said the company wants to be a place where people can make a career, and they want to be the best for their customers. In that way, their customers can know they are getting the best, and their employees can support their families and give back to the community in a way they may never have thought they could.

“Let’s [not] be mediocre. If we’re going to leave our families every day and come to work for eight hours or more, let’s do it with people we love, and let’s be great,” Denton-Price said. “By growing and being great, we’re doing something good for our customers, the people who are getting the end product, but we’re also enhancing the lives of the people who are getting the work done every day.” GN

More Good News

Alumni Helping Alumni

Alumni Helping Alumni

“WE ARE stronger together” has become a motto used to encourage individuals to band together to accomplish a greater good for the entire community. In keeping with this growing momentum across the...

read more
In Other News

In Other News

Bowling Green Recognizes New Citizens The city of Bowling Green celebrated the country’s new citizens during its annual Reception for New Americans Sept. 14 at the Sloan Convention Center. The city...

read more
In Other News

“In Other News.”

Breast Cancer Detection App Created by Western Kentucky University Alumna. IN 2003, while taking a shower, Jessica Baladad noticed a lump in her breast, which led to its removal, and she began...

read more
Letter From the Editor: Saluting Our Local Heroes

Letter From the Editor: Selfess

THE MERRIAM-WEBSTER dictionary defines the word selfless as “someone who has no concern for self, or unselfish.” As the world keeps turning, it may feel like selfless people are few and far between....

read more