Client Spotlight: Tracy Cunningham and an 18-Year-Old Shirt

For those of you that don’t know, Uth Stuph has been around since 1996 ––that’s more than 2 decades old. We’re talking about 25 years of fashion-design-drawing, sticker-pressing, T-shirt-making fun!

One of our loyal clients had an amazing idea to recreate a beloved shirt her husband had worn for many years. She reached out to Uth Stuph to help her with her mission of surprising him with this beloved re-make of his original shirt! Keep reading to know more about her incredible story of this well-loved, 18-year-old shirt.

Tracy, thank you so much for being our client spotlight! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

I’m from Smyrna, TN. I’ve lived in Tennessee for 28 years. My husband and I met at church (Antioch Church of Christ, Antioch, TN) where we still attend there! We celebrated 25 years of marriage this August. We have 3 kids: a 20-year-old (sophomore in college), a 17-year-old (senior in high school), and a 14-year-old (freshman in high school).

What a beautiful family story! The reason we would like to feature you as our client spotlight is because of an amazing request Uth Stuph received from you. You’ve asked that we recreate a favorite custom shirt that your husband has worn for many years, The original shirt was made back in 2003, roughly two decades ago! What was the original event the shirt was made for?

When I hear that question, “roughly two decades ago”, that sounds like forever! I’m thinking back…we only had one child then, and I was working at a totally different job. My husband was just starting his master’s degree so he could teach. (Now he has been teaching for 15 years. Time flies!) 

Before we had kids and up until our kids started school, we worked a lot with the youth group. We still do, but just not in the same capacity. Our church had just hired a new youth minister and this was the first retreat he planned and the shirt was designed for that retreat.  

Amazing that he kept it for so many years! Why did this become such a well-loved shirt after all this time?

My husband LOVED (and still loves) that shirt. I think it was partly the theme of the retreat and what it represented, the design of the shirt, the color of the shirt and the comfort and fit. The verse on the back of the shirt is Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.  There is no command greater than these.” This is a powerful verse to Christians and what we are to do and how to live our lives…(not always an easy task).

So how did you get the idea to remake his beloved shirt?

Ever so often, I would go through clothes and try to weed out some.  I kept trying to get rid of this one, but he would have nothing of it.  When a shirt gets worn as much as that one did, it is bound to show its wear. It was fraying and the cuffs and neckline were coming apart and there were huge holes in the armpits, but he was not about to let it go. 

“It’s my favorite” is what he would always say. For a few weeks, it was missing.  I thought finally he had given in, but no. It showed up again a few weeks later. He had taken it to his mom to see if she could repair the holes. She tried, but it just didn’t look the same. Those were some pretty big holes to try to sew up in the armpits.

I went to the youth minister probably about 2 years ago and asked if he had any of those shirts left stuffed in a box somewhere. He said no and said it was also one of his favorites and he no longer had his and he reminded me that it was from his first retreat after he was hired. 

He was retiring from youth ministry at that time (he still works at our church in another capacity) and was going through stuff. When I realized that shirt was not going anywhere, I went back to the youth minister about a year later and asked if he happened to remember where he ordered it from and he was able to come up with the company and the process started.

Well you definitely get wife of the year award for doing something so sweet!!! How did you feel when you heard Uth Stuph could recreate the beloved and endeared shirt?

When I first sent the email to Uth Stuph, I knew it was a shot in the dark, but just thought I would try. When Nate got back with me and told me that he had actually been with the company when the shirt were made, I got excited!

Nate was awesome to work with and went way beyond his call of duty to make sure I got the shirt. I know several people worked really hard to make this happen and make it look just like the original. Same color and everything! 

Was it a surprise for your husband, or did he know about it?

I was SO excited and it, that it was so hard not to tell my husband, but I wanted it to be a surprise. When they arrived and I gave it to him, he was surprised and excited.  I would now let him wear it in public. 

Hahaha, that is hilarious! When did you give him the shirt?

It was right after his birthday, so I used it as a bonus gift. He once again said, “This is my favorite.” 

I had asked Nate to send me an extra one so that I could give it to the youth minister that ordered them. The surprise reaction was from him.  I just kind of handed it to him casually and said, “Happy Retirement from youth ministry.” 

He got a little emotional and said, “You know, this is from my first retreat ever at Antioch.”  It is amazing how one shirt can hold so many positive thoughts, emotions, and memories.  

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions to share your amazing story. We hope your hubby and the youth minister enjoy their shirts for many years to come! 

Thank you! I am so thankful to Nate and Uth Stuph for making the recreation of this shirt possible. It’s such a perfect duplicate of two decades ago. And just for the record…that original one is still in the drawer!