What started out as a collection of Post-it note drawings has become a collection of t-shirts that showcase the fun and funky side of Huntsville.
We talked with Jonathan Fowler, the founder of Fow Wow Designs, and Nathan Tucker, the general manager, to find out how these clever t-shirts came to be staples in many Huntsville wardrobes.
It started 10 years ago
In 2013, Fowler started drawing designs on Post-it notes. But, they’re not the designs that you’ll see at Fow Wow today.
He started making designs with type 1 diabetic puns, as he has been a type 1 diabetic since he was seven years old. His goal was to spread some positivity with those shirts and be an example for young people diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
You can still see those designs in the shop today, but there aren’t many in existence. After getting his wheels turning with those designs, Fowler shifted gears to making designs involving Huntsville and Alabama—still on Post-it notes.
His drew designs that showcased the character and quirks of Huntsville—the city he thought he’d never come back to. After traveling around to many beautiful spots, he decided that Huntsville actually wasn’t so bad.
“I kind of fell back in love with Alabama because it’s a beautiful state. Every state has history, bad and good, and I’m just trying to find the good in it.”Jonathan Fowler, founder of Fow Wow Designs
So, he started designing shirts that showcased all those good and fun parts of Alabama and Huntsville.
The first Huntsville shirt that he produced was the “Mustachetronaut,” which Fowler designed with local small businesses in mind. He wanted to put small business logos on the back to try to support them.
“My goal was to try to spread love back to our local businesses.”Jonathan Fowler, founder of Fow Wow Designs
But it didn’t stop with the Mustachestronaut. Fowler took a screen printing class at Green Pea Press, kept designing shirts and started selling at Lowe Mill and University Pickers. His “Stranger Noises” shirt, a play on the “Stranger Things” logo with a reference to the “booms” from Redstone Arsenal, took off.
But that wouldn’t be his only design that took off.
The “Whisk you were here” shirt went viral
Fowler had a friend that unfortunately passed away from addiction in 2016, and that sparked Fowler’s desire to design a shirt with Jesus on it. Since he had been designing Huntsville-themed shirts, the iconic “Eggbeater Jesus” at First Baptist Church came to mind.
However, he didn’t want people to think he was making fun of the mosaic, so he decided that all proceeds from the “Whisk you were here” shirt would go to the addiction recovery program at His Way.
He dropped off lots of shirts to University Pickers, where he was selling at the time, and then left for a trip. On the trip, he got a call from University Pickers. They wanted to know if he had anymore of the “Eggbeater Jesus” shirts—they had sold out in a day.
Not only did those shirts sell out, they caught on on social media. A month after posting about the shirt, over 77,000 people had liked and shared it.
Plus, the shirt had also raised $2,500 in a month for His Way.
And, in case you were wondering, First Baptist Church didn’t mind. In fact, when they saw how much money the shirt was raising for a local nonprofit, they jumped on board. The church has bought the most coffee mugs of any customer, and Fowler has spoken at the church.
Fow Wow Designs was born
Shortly after the shirt went viral, Fowler met Bill Neiland, who pushed him to make his small-scale shirt designing into more of a business. In 2017, Fow Wow Designs was an official LLC.
Since the days of designing shirts on Post-it notes, Fowler has made close to 200 different designs, all with their own fun puns, colors and graphics.
But he couldn’t do it all on his own. He’s had help along the way from some talented people, including the general manager of Fow Wow Designs, Nathan Tucker.
Tucker and Fowler played soccer together in high school, but they both left Huntsville, vowing to never come back. Over the years, though, the two kept running into each other over the years. Eventually, both made their way back to Huntsville.
“It just had this nostalgic feeling that I couldn’t explain.”Nathan Tucker, General Manager of Fow Wow Designs
After crossing paths with Fowler and noticing that he was needing somebody to help out with Fow Wow after the tremendous growth, he came on as general manager in early 2022. He wanted a job in Huntsville that would be involved with the community, and Fow Wow Designs has certainly been that job.
They’ve got their own shop now
The latest development in the Fow Wow saga has been a physical storefront in Downtown Huntsville. The little shop on Howe Avenue (across from Furniture Factory), opened right after Thanksgiving last year.
So, not only can you get Fow Wow online, you can also find it at the official Fow Wow shop. It’s definitely worth a visit—you’ll find friendly faces, a funky interior and plenty of funny merchandise inside. You might also find Luna, a sweet dog, hanging around.
If you don’t have a Fow Wow shirt already (or if you want to add to your collection), here’s where you can get them.
- Location: 108 Howe Avenue NE, Huntsville, AL 35801
- Hours: Check their social media pages for updated hours.
- Website | Facebook | Instagram
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