By STACIE FANELLI
Marissa Porskievies envisions her new Red Bank shop, Paint a Tee, as a kid-friendly destination, though there isn’t anything to throw, jump on, slide down or win.
The shop, taking over the former Readies delicatessen location at 18 Monmouth Street when it opens in a few weeks, will sell blank T-shirts, tote bags, puzzles, placemats and more – all to be designed by customers, who might range from 3-year-olds celebrating a birthday to business associates enjoying a ladies’ night out.
The process is straightforward: pick an item to customize, paint on paper, scan it into a computer and add text, photos or clipart if you’d like. Then hand your masterpiece over to Porskievies for a quick application press.
“I don’t think there’s anything like this per se,” she said of the business model. “You can do it on the Internet, but that’s not the same thing. Parents are constantly looking for something cool to do with their kids.”
Deborah Lerman of Red Bank stopped in this week for a tutorial after seeing the paint palette logo in the window. She said she looks forward to bringing her grandchildren to the studio when they visit, especially because it’s so close to A Time to Kiln on Broad Street, the combination of which can make for a full day of activities.
“I’ll have something fun to do that they don’t have at home,” she said. “Then I become the special grandma.”
Paint a Tee will be open daily for walk-in painting, but birthday parties will be a specialty, said Porskievies.
“There’s other different things that people do for birthday parties, but they don’t necessarily get a keepsake to come out with,” she said. “There’s those bouncing things, the pottery. I feel like this is something that’s very innovative, and I have a good comfort level that I’ll succeed.”
She’s collaborating with other downtown businesses to make that happen. Mr. Pizza Slice, a few doors down, will provide the kids’ entree, and parents who don’t bring their own treats can order cake or cupcakes from Sugarush as a package.
“I’m trying to keep everything local, within Red Bank,” said Porskievies, who grew up in town.
There’s one exception: her 80-year-old aunt, mastermind of Oceanport’s Balloon-a-Tiks, has been a professional clown for 40 years, and will provide both balloons and entertainment in the form of balloon animals.
Since she began moving into the space this summer, Porskievies has received interest from a group she wasn’t expecting: adults. They want in, and she will happily acquiesce. She hopes to expand offerings for the grown-up set, such as bachelorette shindigs and sidewalk sale after parties, with a BYOB option as an incentive.
Porskievies left a fashion-designing job in New York to open the store. The idea’s been cooking for two years, since she handed a babysitting charge some ink to keep her busy and then, on a whim, transferred it onto a T-shirt.
“I was working with all these fashion designers and consulting for them, and then I decided that I’d much rather work with little kids than deal with [designers] screaming at me,” she said.
A taste of her high-end background will make its way into Paint a Tee. A line of affordable retail items designed by Porskievies and her colleagues will be for sale but not a business focus.
The blank items average about $18 a piece, which covers the painting and the transferring.
Though it is not set to open until the first week of October, Paint a Tee will make an appearance at Sunday’s Street Fair, when kids will be set up with paint to let their minds run wild.