Q&A's with an Expert

Feb 25th 2022

Get to know Nancy and Chai Tees!

It takes strength and sheer ability to run a business. Two things that come naturally to Nancy Meister. She knew that running and owning a business was her calling from a young age when she opened her first business, all while in law school. The Meat Meister: a service where she would pick meat orders up from the butcher and deliver them to customers. Life went on, and when she started growing her family, she put her business endeavors on hold. But in 2014, her children had flown the coop, and it was time for a new business to begin. Enter Chai Tees.

Q: What is the story behind Chai Tees? What made you start it?

A: In 2013, schools were starting to require uniforms. I saw there was a need for someone to provide them, and in 2014 I decided to delve into that business. When I first approached Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High’s PTA, they turned me down because I was brand new. But the following year, after they realized how unhappy they were with the company they had previously decided on, the PTA approached me to do their uniforms. And I’ve happily been their preferred vendor ever since!

Q: Chai Tees, great play-on use of the word “tees,” by the way! What made you come up with the name?

A: To be honest, I love chai tea, and I drink it every day. That’s where I got the name!

Q: How did you feel about your first sale?

A: It was very exciting! We found a niche and realized we could help and meet a growing need.

Q: Do you only service schools in Dade County?

A: No. We currently provide uniforms for Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. But we can service schools anywhere in the country because we ship all over.

Q: How has your company grown? Can you do a comparison from when you first opened versus now?

A: We started with two owners and are now down to one owner but with twelve full-time employees. In 2016 I purchased all of my own equipment compared to when we first opened when we had to sub out our screen-printing and embroidery orders. We originally started out of a garage, moved to a 1,500 square foot unit by the end of 2014, and then by 2015, we needed more space and moved our retail store into a 3,000 square unit. When I bought the equipment in 2016, we rented a second 3,000 square unit specifically for doing all of our orders in-house.

Q: Can you walk your clients through an order process?

A: A customer can call and tell me what they’re looking for. They’ll let me know what type of apparel they want. They’ll tell me what and where they want something printed. I’ll ask them questions such as: “How many pieces,” “What specific style they want,” “The color they want,” “How many colors they would like,” “If they want it on the front of the clothing, back, or sleeve.” Then I’ll send them an estimate. Once that’s approved, I’ll have the artwork done for them unless they have provided the art already. I’ll order the apparel. They’ll approve the artwork if we had it designed for them. Then it goes over to the production side, where it gets printed or embroidered. And finally, they pick it up.

Q: Where do you get your artwork?

A: Sometimes, people will provide the artwork. Or clients send us vector art or tell us an idea as to what they want, and we’ll outsource and hire an artist to create something that fulfills those parameters.

Q: What is the turnaround time for orders to be completed?

A: The whole process takes approximately 7-10 days after the artwork is approved, but it can also depend on a client’s response time.

Q: Are clients able to bring you their own personal items to be embroidered or screen-printed?

A: Yes. We get a fair amount of self-brought items.

Q: School uniforms are a large market. How do you stay ahead of other companies?

A: We start preparing in January for the upcoming school year. Most people start getting their kids ready for school in the summer, so we stay ahead of the game, and we’ll always be fully stocked. We also keep our prices low and competitive so that we’re affordable for everyone!