WILLIAMSBURG — A local family has built a brand that centers around the concept of “girl dads,” while honoring the military community.
The t-shirt company, Heroic Apparel, was founded last year by Jason McNeely, who has been active duty in the Navy for 15 years.
Based out of Toano, Heroic Apparel was created for Jason’s daughter, who was four years old at the time.
“It was different having a daughter as a military guy,” Jason said. “I started the t-shirt company kind of on a whim. I had the original girl dad concept that I liked, because obviously I’m a girl dad. And then we just started selling more shirts.”
Jason’s wife Brandi has a hand in building the company’s brand.
“When we started it, it was just sort of a hobby and kind of something that we thought we could do just to show our daughter that there are other paths to success in life,” Brandi said.
Printed on the apparel are phrases and symbols representing the McNeelys’ love for military and family, such as “Girl Dad” and “Patriot.”
Their daughter even has her own role in the company.
“She’s, like, thoroughly involved,” Jason said. “She writes on the packaging slips and puts the shipping labels on the bags. She loves it.”
Heroic Apparel has now reached a point in sales that they are able to partner with a nonprofit organization that shares the company’s values.
$10 from every sale of their “Patriot” shirt goes toward Operation Camp, a nonprofit organization that sends children of fallen military to summer camps all around the country.
The organization helps children, also known as “Gold Star children,” heal from the loss of a parent by sending them to a summer camp of their choosing and taking the stress off of them for a while.
Jason and Brandi said that the organization’s mission also aligned with their own.
“I couldn’t imagine my daughter growing up without me,” Jason said. “I just think those kids are not talked about enough.”
“The point of sending Gold Star kids to camp is helping them through that transition of losing a parent,” Brandi added. “And statistics show that going to summer camp helps kids deal with stuff like that.”
Jason previously served with Operation Camp’s co-founder Jason Main, and saw that the organization was in need of funding for a few Gold Star children.
“I just took one of the shirts I had recently designed and started printing,” Jason said. “So we decided $10, basically all the proceeds from every shirt sold, would go to Operation Camp.”
With Jason still serving active duty and Brandi maintaining a full-time career, the two currently run Heroic Apparel in the spare pockets of their day. However, they are focusing their efforts on expanding the business.
“We’ve grown tremendously even just in the last six months, and I think we’ve realized this is actually something that we can turn into a viable business,” Brandi said. “Just getting our name out in our local community is tremendously important because we hope to turn this into a standalone business.”
To learn more about Heroic Apparel, visit the website.