But in 1995, Eskimo Joe's created a slam dunk. The Oklahoma State University basketball team had just earned a spot in the Final Four by defeating UMass in a physical game that left Cowboy player Scott Pierce missing a tooth. The staff designed “Toothless in Seattle,” depicting Joe mid-dunk with his signature smile minus a tooth. Stillwater was ecstatic with the win and the shirts were so successful Eskimo Joe's couldn't keep up. People were waiting in line for shirts coming off the printing press, which were sold while they were still warm.
From the success of that shirt, Clark began building the printing plant at a cost of about $2.5 million.
“They say you don't build the church for Easter Sunday,” Clark said. “We built this facility for another success like that (Toothless in Seattle.) It never came.”
So to utilize the creative staff and printing presses when they weren't working on Joe's Clothes, Clark had the idea to extend their services to other companies. Eskimo Joe's Promotional Products Group was formed in 2001.
This spring, they hit a milestone by printing more shirts for other companies than their own, though they are now back to ramping up production of Joe's Clothes to stock the holiday shops they'll have in malls across the state.
Recent orders include tank tops for a new club the Chickasaw Nation is opening, Eskimo Joe's co-branded shirts for the Girl Scouts' centennial celebration and logo shirts for Chaps My Ass motorcycle accessories shop in Medicine Park (which have been so popular, sales of the shirts are now covering the shop's overhead, Clark says.)
Jaimie Siegal, director of collaborations for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, said they jumped at the chance to have their 100th anniversary shirts feature “the most recognizable T-shirt design around.”
“It's a wonderful opportunity to have partners in our community,” she said. “And an opportunity for them to give back.” The design has been a great seller, she added.