They say absence makes the heart grow fonder.
It was true for Kendra Goeman.
During her four years of living in Montana, Kendra realized how much she missed her home state of Nebraska. She noticed how Montana residents showed their state pride in t-shirts, bumper stickers and hats. But when she tried to find similar items to show her state pride in Nebraska, she came up empty.
“I was really homesick, and I was looking for Nebraska stuff,” Kendra said.
Like most Nebraskans, Kendra loves the Huskers. But she was looking for apparel that showed Nebraska culture and pride outside of the Huskers.
“When you get out of the state, you want a piece of Nebraska with you,” she said. “I realized in Montana, they have pride in their state and in other things besides the Grizzlies. We didn’t have anything like that.”
When Kendra returned to Nebraska in 2017, she decided to solve this problem. She launched Nebraska Shirt Co. as a side business to her full-time job in health care. And, she soon realized that she wasn’t the only one wanting Nebraska t-shirts.
Her shirts were so popular at craft shows and through online sales on her website that she decided to open up a store and pursue her business full time. On April 2, Kendra opened the doors to Nebraska Shirt Co. in downtown Scottsbluff.
The store features Kendra’s original t-shirt designs, including her popular “It’s For Me” Nebraska t-shirt and the “Wish You Were Beer” t-shirt.
Her t-shirts are unique because they show off Nebraska pride – not necessarily tied to the Huskers. She screen prints her designs on high-quality shirts.
“People really like the softness of my shirts,” Kendra said. “I used trusted brands for my products. People really like that part of the business.”
She also showcases Nebraska on designs she creates for mugs, ball caps, coasters, ornaments and bumper stickers.
“There’s a pretty big trend for bumpers stickers on luggage and Yeti coolers,” Kendra said. “I want to get some unique bumper stickers for Nebraska.”
“It’s not just a t-shirt shop,” Kendra said. “You can find anything in here for any age person.”
She appreciated the support that business owners gave to her when she was just starting out, so she is trying to do the same for others. “I feel like it’s a good platform for other people to sell their products,” Kendra said of her store. “I had a lot of other people help me along the way by giving me a platform to sell my products. I wanted give back.”
Kendra said her goal is to help stock Nebraska gift shops, museums and tourist centers with Nebraska-made items instead of items made in China.
“I’d really like to be able to provide my products to the people who come into Nebraska and discover they like our state,” she said. “Then, they can take something home with them that’s from Nebraska, and shows pride in the state. I want to change the culture a little bit.”
Nebraska Shirt Co.’s summer hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues.-Fri. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Story by GROW Nebraska member Kristine Jacobson, www.krjpr.com.