High Five to the Hand: Its all Michiganall the time for 3 entrepreneurs
By Erin Crowell
In Michigan, we know how to use our hands from hard labor and sipping
local spirits to geographically showing our location; yes, if youre a
Michigander, at one point youve probably thrown up that palm for an
out-of-stater and pointed (whether a wrinkle or pinky) to where you live.
Thanks to its shape, Michigan is the hardest U.S. state to draw but likely
the most identifiable.
Its this identification that is the idea behind High Five Threads, a
product line celebrating not only Michigans unique shape, but its
We want to show Michigan is more than just backwoods cottages, said
Byron Pettigrew, one of three owners of the Traverse City-based store
which sells all-Michigan products. Located in the Village of the Grand
Traverse Commons, High Five Threads will host its grand opening on
Thursday, Aug. 25, from 5-7 p.m.
The companys most popular product includes its t-shirts printed on Bella
& Canvas Brand cotton, which uses an athletic-style cut.
Such designs include the High Five Threads logo, a hand drawn in place of
the Lower Peninsula; Vinted in and Brewed in with the outline of the
Lower Peninsula shaped as a wine and beer glass, respectively; the
DueceThirtyOne, our regions response to Detroits 313 and 616 branded
shirts; and the very popular Keep It Fresh lake printa Great Lakes-only
rendering celebrating the natural beauty that surrounds us, as well as
what makes the outline of the state stand out.
We practically sold out of shirts within our first week and a half of
opening, said Brad Kula, who deals with the marketing and business end of
Other products include the High Five Threads logo vinyl decal, glassware,
Fishtown coffee, homemade treats from Traverse Citys D.O.G. bakery and a
Michigan-shaped (Lower and Upper Peninsula represented) ice cube tray,
which was designed and manufactured entirely in Michigan.
Materials and assembly for the tray are represented in Howell,
Chesterfield, Shelby Township, St. Clair Shores, Harrison Township,
Midland and Clarkston.
Lance Hill, the companys chief creator of design (as he puts it,
laughing), has created all the logos and rendering of High Fives
products, save the Awesome Mitten and Detroit Hustles Harder designs.
Before the trio graduated from Kalkaska High School in 2004, Hill and
Pettigrew were already operating a part-time business; Sound Bytesan
entertainment and DJ service for private parties and corporate events they
started at age 15still exists today (check them out at
In 2010, Pettigrew, Hill and Kula launched their marketing and design
company, Lit Image, which helps clients do everything from graphic design
and branding to photography and event planning.
The online company met most of their clients face-to-face at the Grand
Traverse Commons, so when the opportunity presented itself to snag some
retail space in the building, the three believed a move there seemed the
most logical step.
The small space serves as both a store and headquarters for their multiple
businesses - with plans to expand their product line into sweatshirts,
hats and other clothing, according to Hill.
Theres no argument that these 24-year-olds, each a month apart, have the
business savvy and overall drive to see a vision through to a profitable
endeavor. However, their drive is more than just about doing business
its about helping Michigan, and the people who live here, make a name for
When we were in high school, practically everyone wanted to leave the
state, said Pettigrew. We want to show this generation that Michigan is
actually a really cool place to be.
High five to that, man!