Wanting to further the careers of other artists he knew, Jake Nickell set up a competition-based T-shirt-design company in his small apartment to give those artists a chance to make their art and get paid while doing it. Today, the small design startup has expanded into Threadless, a virtual boutique showcasing artsy apparel and accessories from designers all over the globe. Each week, guest artists and illustrators submit designs depicting pop-culture references, animals, folk art, and vibrant abstract works, leaving it up to the online community to vote on which entries will populate the shop’s menagerie of merch ranging from T-shirts and hoodies to bags, laptop cases, and umbrellas.
In addition to printing their work, Threadless honours artists with awards for designers in various categories, as well as a Made By program highlighting artists who've developed a following in the community or discovered the whereabouts of Van Gogh's middle-school diaries. Store staffers also award scholarships to hardworking designers and present Design Challenges to focus submitting artists on a central theme or aesthetic style. At Threadless Atrium, they collaborate with charities and other outside organizations to gather eclectic art submissions that currently benefit the American Cancer Society and Disney Villains.
Signature service: Home Delivery
Established: Before 1950
Staff Size: 50+ people
The town of Rockford first started getting news in the pages of the Rockford Register Star back in 1855. The business blossomed over time and today the paper publishes daily, landing on the door steps of more than 50,000 homes and businesses. Writers and editors also supply the companion website with a constant stream of content, all of which is available to members along with the daily delivery of the paper. The paper focuses on local happenings, covering a mix of current events, crime, local politics, and momentous domestic announcements, such as weddings and the discovery of a house that can talk.
To the doctors behind Evolution Med Spa, a weight-loss program is like a well-cut suit—tailored to fit its owner. In this spirit, they customize each of their regimens to the client, taking into account his or her body type, metabolic rate, and medical history. The resulting programs can focus on hormone balancing, dietary supplements, or nutrition plans more effective than using water as salad dressing. The clinic's laser-lipo services, meanwhile, non-invasively slim physiques up to four inches per session. The center also offers services to help with hormone rebalancing and restoration, menopause symptom relief, skin care and rejuvenation services, spider-vein treatments, laser hair removal, and acne treatment using infrared red light therapy.
From biochemistry textbooks to best-selling paperback thrillers, most of the reading material at Market Fresh Books has the same price: $5.99 per pound—although some material such as graphic novels and audiobooks may vary. Co-owners and Evanston residents Paul and Susan wanted to find a new way to sell in-demand used books, so they simplified the process by stocking their shelves with popular titles for all age groups and charging by weight for most items. The stores also cater particularly to the needs of students by buying back textbooks and reselling the used copies for a fraction of the original retail price. Additionally, Market Fresh Books tempts its customers with used CDs, movies, vinyl records, video games, and a fire pit around which an old man tells the tales of yore.
Black Tie Formalwear's seasoned clothiers redefine manly silhouettes with fine Italian suits perfectly matched against dress shirts and colorful silk ties. From Italian imaginations renowned for designing distinguished men's formalwear, each suit boasts fibers of lightweight super 140 wool, a measurement that describes the heft of the yarn and the fact that it was harvested from Superman's personal flock of sheep. Michael Kors cotton dress shirts breathe easily through their comfortable weave while breathing life into fashionable ensembles. The eye-catching glisten of all silk ties rest comfortably atop shirts and chests, secretly inscribed with subconscious pick-up lines woven by flirtatious silk worms. Formalwear experts reside at each location, ready to assist customers with measurements, fittings, and recommendations of matching shoes or accessories.
The physical-to-digital technicians of Pixcel understand that old media can slowly deteriorate from age, improper handling, or the focused fury of Leonard Maltin’s trained moths. Through their transfer services, the staffers can skillfully turn photographs and slides, VHS and camcorder tapes, and film into everlasting digital files, able to be stored on hard drives or burned onto physical discs. They can also upgrade the quality of images, increasing clarity and producing brighter colors through frame-by-frame scanning, film restoration, and color correction.