Fortune Tees

As Confucius says, “A great t-shirt is in your near future”

That could be the motto of Fortune Tees and their founders and best friends, Irish-Australian Carla O’Brien and Scottish-American Megan MacEachern, who started their business a mere three years ago after opening a fortune cookie and reading the message: “You will make a fortune with a friend”.

This prediction came true, and as the first anniversary of their first Fortune Tee store in Hollywood suburb Los Feliz approaches, O’Brien talked to us about their success, hanging out in L.A. – they both live in Hollywood – and O’Brien’s Irish connections:

“I was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and I am 3rd or 4th generation. My family moved out to Australia from Ireland in the 1800’s. Before Fortune Tees came into my life, I was sales manager for Australian Pacific Touring – a touring company – and it was amazing to travel all over promoting Australia”.

She is sure that Los Angeles played a vital part in making the dream of Fortune Tees become a reality:

“I came here in 1988 straight from Australia, and it was a really fantastic opportunity for me to live in Hollywood. The buzz of creativity is what began the creative process that became Fortune Tee, and I doubt I would have done this if I wasn’t living here”.

The unusual idea of making t-shirts that came in a white Chinese takeaway box and featured witty, silly or profound fortunes – and of course the lucky numbers – was something different, and success came quickly:

“We started with baby and kids t-shirts that had messages like “A surprise will come in my pants”, and took a stall at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market – and sold out! Then, after they were selected to be one of the surprises in the Gift Bag at the Grammy Music Awards in 2003, things just went wild. Neither of us could believe it, especially me, because my background was not in fashion at all – I felt that I was just a gal with a clever idea”.

Now, thanks to the endorsements of Hollywood star moms and dads including Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Gwyneth Paltrow, Britney Spears, supermodels Heidi Klum and Claudia Schiffer and even David and Victoria Beckham, their t-shirts have flown off the shelves at local Los Angeles stores and ended up gracing the racks at certain Nordstrom department stores and in nearly 500 boutiques worldwide, including London, Italy, France, Germany, Japan and Australia.

When she has free time away from the A-List, O’Brien likes to do the unthinkable – walk around the city:

“Living in Silver Lake, I tend to like to go out within a 10 minute drive of my house, and if I can walk…even better. Griffith Park and Silver Lake Reservoir are my favorite places for exercising, Downtown for drinking and museums, and Silver Lake, Echo Park and Hollywood for dining and drinking”.

MacEachern is also a keen walker, and likes to pull on some boots and go into the wilds:

“I love to hike in the Hollywood Hills – actually behind the Hollywood sign – and funnily enough, the YMCA in Hollywood is the most down to earth gym in LA!”

As for the future, there seems to be no end of combinations planned; bibs, underwear, pajamas, hoodies and leggings are in the pipeline, and their latest line of tongue-in-cheek clothes celebrated the Chinese New Year:

“The t-shirts featured phrases like “Sit. Roll Over. Good Dog”, “I like it Ruff” and “Woof” because 2006 is the Year Of The Bitch!”

O’Brien – a common name in County Clare and South West Ireland – also wants to take time to finally visit Ireland for the first time:

“Unfortunately I have never been before, but I believe we have some distant relatives living there. I saw a major gathering of all the O’Briens in Ireland took place about two years ago. I didn’t manage to make it then, but I do plan to go in the next 12 months”.

With their t-shirts designs already having been featured in the pages of People magazine, Harpers Bazaar and In Style, one of their “Baby Message” predictions seems very likely to come true though: “Fame and fortune are around the corner”.

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