texties11Two young girls model shirts designed by three local kids. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)


Sally Carden had a serious OMG moment Thursday night.

She was sitting at NovelTeas in Red Bank, coloring and munching cookies, surrounded by dozens of kids and adults wearing T-shirts that she and her two cousins had designed and were at that moment debuting.

It struck the Monmouth Beach nine-year-old that she was officially a small business owner.

“It feels really, like, cool, because it’s a business we started,” Sally said.

The business is Texties, a line of T-shirts that feature the shorthand language and emoticons used in text messages — things like ‘BRB‘ and a 21st century take on the classic smiley face.

Sally, along with her cousins, Michael and Ally Baratta, of Red Bank, were in the car a couple months ago and talking about the scene from ‘Forrest Gump‘ when Tom Hanks’ character finds a yellow T-shirt and wipes his muddy face on it, inadvertently creating the popular “Be Happy” logo.

It was then that the trio came up with the idea to press the digital smiley face onto a shirt. And it went from there to a full line of text-themed tees.

The idea is to print positive messages commonly sent via text between friends, said Michelle Baratta, the mother of Michael and Ally.

“We were thinking how people just invented stuff, and we were thinking about texting, so we thought, ‘Text tees,” Sally said.

With the help of their parents, the threesome got the brand trademarked and are now officially open for business — in digital fashion, of course. The shirts will be available online when Texties.com launches, likely next week.

But the plan is to take it to the street one day, too, Michael Baratta said.

“With the money (made Thursday), we’ll make more shirts and eventually open a store,” said the 12-year-old.