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'Free to Be Me' clothing line hits the local racks

Pictured with several items from their "Free to Be Me" clothing line are Perham retailers Bette Pitzel and Michelle Shaw. Pitzel is wearing one of their signature shirts.1 / 2
Pictured here is a rack of some of the locally designed garments.2 / 2

Perham retail's mother-daughter duo of Bette Pitzel and Michelle Shaw has conceived of a new business venture--all aimed at inspiring women.

Quotes such as "A woman is the full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture, and transform," now adorn t-shirts and other apparel under Pitzel and Shaw's "Free to Be Me" label.

Pitzel and Shaw are both well-known in the Perham community for the Main Street retail shop they run, The Back Porch. "We've wanted to branch out for awhile," Shaw explains of their decision to create the clothing line. The pair first started brainstorming ideas for the line over a year ago.

"It was a long process," admits Pitzel, detailing how they would order in different shirts, try them on, and check their quality to determine the best possible options for their line. Then there were the added tasks of researching their label name and going through the legal process to copywrite it.

Despite the labor intensive process of getting the line up and running, Pitzel and Shaw say it's what they enjoy doing. "We wanted to do something we were both familiar with," says Shaw, "and that was clothing."

Shaw designed the unique "Free to Be Me" tags, which were then printed locally at Perham Printing. They received their first shirts at the store in May, but went to market with them in March.

All together, there are seven different inspirational statements featured on the clothing line. According to Shaw, their most popular quote is, "Allow me to live my life with the heart of a hippie, the strength of a feminist, and the knowledge of all the great women that have gone before me."

The shirts are primarily black and white, short sleeve and long sleeve. However, there are also some colorful variations, printed on diverse clothing items. The plan is to create some different designs for the shirts each year. "We hope to keep growing the line, and adding more quotes," says Shaw.

In addition to its local availability at The Back Porch shop, the "Free to Be Me" line is also available for other stores to order wholesale. There is already a shop in Fargo carrying the line, along with a few places in Minneapolis.

To feature their new "Free to Be Me" line, Pitzel and Shaw are planning an open house for July 20 - 25 at The Back Porch. They will give a shirt away each day, along with featuring samples and other store promotions throughout the week.

Pitzel and Shaw encourage people to stop into their shop, check out the new shirts, and take time to read through the "Free to Be Me" quotes. As they embark on their new retail journey, the mother and daughter team is eager to witness the impact their clothing line will have. "The whole basis of the line is to inspire women," confirms Shaw.