Chewylou’s shirt ideas are drawn from life experiences, family, friends and community involvement. Here, founder Alyssa Dinowitz shares how the company got its start, in addition to their mission of doing good for the world, while looking good at the same time.

MSM: How did your company get its start?

AD: In early 2002, I was a busy mother of two small children with an intense love for yoga. With the support of my family, I decided to get my yoga certification. Soon I began teaching several classes and instructing professional athletes and formed Athletes Yoga, LLC. I was lucky enough to juggle motherhood, teach yoga and contribute articles to such publications as Sports Illustrated, Fitness Magazine and Bicycling Magazine.

Yoga addresses issues with our physical body, and also enhances our spiritual qualities. My goal as a teacher was to inspire each student to live in a better, healthier and more positive way. One of my classes consisted of a fabulous group of women, who soon became like sisters to me. Over the next five years, our journey together was a combination of joys and sorrows. We shared life experiences with each other: the death of a parent, cancer, divorce, the birth of babies and the challenges of facing middle age. One morning before class, I thought about the qualities in myself that I would like to enhance. I came up with “Enthusiasm, Gratitude, Optimism,” or the acronym EGO. I told my students to write it on their mirrors in lipstick, to make it their new mantra — go ahead and have a big EGO.  

Without knowing it, I created my first t-shirt idea. I then created other “blessing” acronyms that struck a chord in my life, such as FAITH, HOPE, DREAM, BREATHE, PEACE, LIVE and KARMA. I was inspired to create the LIVE, (Love, Imagine, Value, Embrace) shirt for my mother Marriann, who was courageously handling breast cancer for the third time. Sadly, her journey ended in 2009, but her spirit lives on through the LIVE tee.

MSM: What else would you like our readers to know about Chewylou?

AD: In keeping with our commitment to actively support non-profit organizations, some of Chewylou’s t-shirts are screen printed at Michael’s Garden. At Michael’s Garden, adults with special needs learn vocational skills by trained professionals to create quality products for Chewylou. The employees hand-embellish each tee with Swarovski crystals and the screen printing is done by their adult clients in one of their production centers, ACCEL (Arizona Center for Education and Life Skills). Chewylou also uses ACME Screen Prints, Arizona’s “Greenest” screen printer.

MSM: What other organizations do you support?

AD: Because we like to do good while looking good, Chewylou Designs actively supports valuable charitable organizations — The Lupus Foundation of America, Planting Peace, Best Friends Animal Rescue, Faces of Hope Fund and Chemo Companions (which I founded).

MSM: What is your company’s mission?

AD: The mission of Chewylou Designs is to inspire goodness through positive thought and promote physical and spiritual strength. We encourage you to live with “Gratitude,” “Joy” and with the “Hope that Kindness Wins.” Thank you for embracing our style and for supporting our message. 

For more information on Chewylou, visit http://www.chewyloudesigns.com/.