Local by design: Meet the Hamilton County entrepreneur behind a line of custom T-shirts

Meredith Finn wants you to wear your hometown pride on your sleeve — quite literally.


As the owner of Newtown Shirt Company, the entrepreneur is the creative brains behind a line of community-oriented, custom-designed T-shirts for groups, events, and schools.


Finn says the business grew out of a need she identified. She had purchased an existing business, Chica Sport, a retailer of non-slip headbands for active women. People would come into the store and ask about T-shirts, so she recognized a potential opportunity to expand into that market.


“I started (making T-shirts) on the side and realized that I love that, and it was really fun because it was very much connected to what was going on in the community and things that were topical and local,” she says. “And so, I shifted my focus away from Chica and created Newtown Shirt Company in October 2018.”


That move has boded well for Finn, who says the business is more than just a source of income. It’s a way to feel like she’s part of something bigger. Her impact and reach are broad and is reflective of her customer base.


“We do a lot of things for schools, local businesses, but also the average person who may have a family reunion or wants some kind of one-off design for a birthday party,” she explains.


Regardless of the clientele or occasion, Finn won’t compromise on one important factor. Her business — whose namesake is a nod to her place of residence — is locally-minded, first and foremost. She employs a few people from the community and the threads are sourced from an area vendor as well.


“I really want to maintain that feeling that we're in the community, and we have an understanding of the community,” she says. “So, I didn't want to grow too big and try to start doing work in places that I didn't know. I want to stay grounded in that way.”


When she says local, she means hyper-local. One of her first set of designs promoted Anderson Township and she was met with great interest. At the time, there was merchandise promoting Cincinnati but not necessarily the smaller cities and towns in the metro area. In this way, Finn helped them lean into their sense of identity.


“I like that people were taking pride in their community,” she says, “and that we were able to help them do that.”