Lindsay O’Brien never imagined that clothes she was designing for herself would lead to a business, but that is just how her Good Karma Shirt Co. began.
“I had started hula hoop dancing and wanted to make some costumes,” the Rock Island woman said. She recalled how after posting some of the items on Facebook, she quickly had friends “messaging where could they buy my stuff?”
From that initial interest, O’Brien decided last winter to take her repurposed T-shirts and tie-dye wear to the Freight House Farmers Market. After finding success at the Davenport market with a booth on Saturdays only, she now has moved into her own storefront at The Shoppes on 2nd, a new retail incubator in downtown Rock Island.
Good Karma Shirt Co., 1700 2nd Ave., is run by O’Brien, a 2010 Moline High School graduate, with help from her mother, Patty Willet.
The store features handcrafted and custom-designed repurposed clothing, hula hoops, jewelry, accessories and other products. “I’d say our clothes have a hippie feel to them,” she said, adding that her shop is attracting an audience that ranges from teens to women over 60.
O’Brien said she carries clothing she makes herself as well as vintage clothes and a line of new clothing — “all made in the U.S.A.” The new line, she said, allows her to offer an assortment of sizes of the same item.
“My dream was always to open up my own store,” she said. “Now I feel like I’m on the path I was supposed to take.
“The Shoppes on 2nd is such an amazing program,” said O’Brien, who is benefiting from the program’s rent subsidy and marketing assistance. “This really nurtures startup businesses. I never imagined it (my business) would get this big and to this level so fast.
Good Karma Shirt Co. is the third tenant at the Shoppes, joining Q-C Collective, an artists’ cooperative, and Vivian’s Vintage Varieties, an antique store.
Catherine Rodgers-Ingles, executive director of The District, said O’Brien’s excitement and energy “are contagious.” “We’re so excited to have her,” she said.
She added that the Shoppes will soon be full. “We have pending business plans on the three remaining units.”
The idea behind the incubator is that the businesses can get their start there and eventually move out into a larger storefront as they grow.
Rodgers-Ingles, who operates the program for the partners — Renaissance Rock Island and the city of Rock Island — said she has a waiting list of entrepreneurs. She believes that is a sign of the good health of the local economy.
“We were catering to first-time entrepreneurs, so we didn’t know what they would come up with,” she said of the tenant mix.
The initial tenants, she added, are sharing advice, talents “and working together to help each other.” “They have all blended so nicely with each other and that has been an unexpected bonus.”
The Shoppes on 2nd is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.