When I first started working, I couldn't believe how much time I spent creating things from scratch: policies, brochures, forms, company shirts, artwork for our walls— you name it. I knew there were occupational therapists all around the globe doing similar work to me, but I didn’t know how connect with them to share resources.
Potential was born in 2012 with the idea of swapping high-quality work. I’ve since loved having conversations though blogging, but haven’t forgotten my original desire to offer products. This past fall, I attended the Storyline Conference and received the push I needed to make this a reality.
Where the idea began
It was hard to know where to begin with product creation. The concept that I kept coming back to was that OTs, like other professionals, are trying to figure out how to stand out in a noisy healthcare environment, whether it is being recognized on the national level for our #distinctvalue or simply filling up our caseload.
I wanted to create something that helped with the basic problem of identity.
How to stand out
I worked in a hospital setting for awhile where the physical therapists wore business causal and the occupational therapists wore scrubs. One of the PTs told me that wearing business casual helped him stand out in people’s memory. That made a lot of sense to me as I pictured the barrage of people in scrubs that patients have to keep up with. I know that I have been remembered as “RT,” “PT,” “Social Work” and “that one girl.”
His concept is so simple, which is exactly what makes a good idea. So I decided to make the best occupational therapy shirt on the market.
A quality shirt isn’t a fix all, but having one can't hurt
This shirt may not solve your OT identity crisis. But, I do hope this shirt will make you stick in people’s memory. I hope that it sets the tone for the quality and creativity that you intend to bring to each session. I hope it helps you avoid the awkwardness of patients squinting at the tiny print on your name tag.
Making shirts for your team can be great fun, but it can also be a time-suck of trying to decide on the right color, fonts, blah blah blah— so I hope that, for some of you, this will be your choice for the OT month event you are hosting or your casual Friday uniform.
Finding the right fit and design
Each day you have to be prepared to squat, bend forward, unexpectedly lift someone, and have bodily discharge (of all types) secreted on you. Finding a shirt that looks nice and can hold up to these challenges can be a task.
I started with finding a premium shirt that will be flattering in even the most acrobatic moments and survive frequent washings. A good looking unisex shirt does not exist, so I landed on different men’s and women’s styles.
Collaborating with Joe Horacek at the Little Mountain Print Shoppe was a no-brainer for me. He has designed and made several of my favorite shirts over the years. Anyone who knows me can testify to how often I wear them.
Ethically sourced products are vey important to me, but the process of tracking down where clothing comes from can be extremely daunting. I am thankful to have found two companies that include social responsibility as one of their pillars. You can actually see shirts being made at Bella+Canvas here. You can read Alternative Apparel's policies here.
I’m hoping that for some OT teams, these shirts will provide the option to present as a unified front. In the future, I would love to expand the series to include a physical therapy and speech therapy shirt that would be distinctive, but also help your whole rehab team obtain a cohesive look.