The founders of Cambridge-based Project Repat have found a way to make a profit out of re-purposing the T-shirts that people keep stored in the back of their closets out of posterity, novelty or nostalgia.
The startup, which makes a range of quilts for customers out of their old T-shirts, is expecting more than $2 million in revenue this year, up from $1 million in 2013, said Nathan Rothstein, president of Project Repat.
The quilts are a “modern form of scrap-booking,” Rothstein said, and customers include former sorority or fraternity members, mothers whose children are graduating from high school or college, and those who have participated in athletic events such as road races.
“We’ve found this product really applies to almost any American who has participated in anything throughout their lives,” Rothstein said.
About 15 percent of the quilts are made for customers who want to memorialize a loved one who has passed away, Rothstein said.
The idea came to Rothstein and co-founder Ross Lohr in 2012, when they set out to find new uses for old T-shirts that get distributed in the U.S., donated to thrift shops, and then wind up being shipped and sold overseas.
They started out by sewing the T-shirts into tote bags and scarves and selling them at outdoor markets such as SoWa. Then, customers began asking Rothstein and Lohr if there was a way to turn their treasured T-shirts into quilts.
“We didn’t know it at the time, but there was a demand in the marketplace for an affordable way to preserve your T-shirt memories,” Rothstein said.
The quilts range from $60 to about $190 depending on the size, and they’re made at factories in Fall River, Mass., and North Carolina.