Maker: Cyndi from Bad Pickle Tees

Food puns are the best. And cool t-shirts are the best. And if you combine food puns and cool t-shirts together you get Bad Pickle Tees. And that is, seriously, the best. And to top it off, like a mound of really good frosting on an amazing cupcake, Cyndi has a cool story behind her company name. She also has one pretty inspiring story of how her business got started. So check out Cyndi and Bad Pickle Tees.

Please introduce yourself.  

Hello!  My name is Cyndi Grasman.  I am the owner/designer and Top Pickle of Bad Pickle Tees.  I grew in beautiful Southern California (Irvine to be exact) and now live in Valley Center, which is a very small rural community in San Diego county.  So small it’s not even an official city!  I am surrounded by gorgeous avocado groves and peace and quiet.

What do you make or do?

I create fun punny foodie t-shirts (and totes and soon aprons!)  It’s fashion for foodies.  I mean really, is there anything better than a food pun?????

Where can we find your creations?

You can find my tees at  I also have an Etsy store and sell at all the best shows (including Patchworks 🙂

Is there an interesting story behind the name of your business?

With a name like Bad Pickle Tees everyone wants to know where the name comes from. (haha!)  Pickle was my nickname as a kid, and when I was up to mischievousness (which was often) I was known as the Bad Pickle.

How long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

I created my first shirt in January of 2012.  I had asked for a craft screen printing kit for Christmas to make a shirt I had pictured in my head for a long time.  I never planned on selling any, but I had so many people ask me where I got it, I decided to make a couple and open an Etsy store and sold my first shirt in April 2012.  I designed a few more and within a couple of months I was so overwhelmed and couldn’t keep up that I quit my job and have been doing this full-time (probably more than full time) ever since.

When you’re not making things, what do you do?

You’ll find me either cooking/eating or training for a marathon/triathlon (which I do so I can eat more!)

What obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?

I was creatively dead for many years.  In my family of 3 siblings I have an older brother who is an amazing artist, almost beyond comprehension.  He got labeled (as we all do) the gifted/creative one which sort of shut that door for the other 2 of us.  I drew and created but never like he did so it was never nurtured.  I grew up and really forgot about that side of me.  I turned type A personality and went all out in my professional corporate life.  Then one day saw a flyer for Patchwork and thought “I want to go”.  I went and was so amazed by all the creativity.  It had been so long since I had been around that.  A passion/desire to create was stirred.  I started to mess around and a few months later is when I created my first shirt.  I never thought it would be a business, I just wanted to create.

Where do you find inspiration?

I find my inspiration from so many of the people I meet at the shows where I sell my shirts.  I share so many laughs and stories and thoughts with some of them (everyone has a great food story) that many times a new idea for a shirt will happen right there!

What’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

I am really trying to keep Bad Pickle Tees organic.  I spent so many years planning and micromanaging in corporate America it feels good and right to let things fall naturally into place with BPTee.  It’s worked brilliantly so far!

If money wasn’t an issue how would your life change with regards to your art?

I would hire someone to take care of the day-to-day of Bad Pickle so I could free up time to indulge myself in other creative pursuits.

What would be your perfect day off?

An early rise and a long bike ride that ended at the beach.   Hang out with my daughter and create something or spend the day baking in the kitchen.  I’m sure there would be a nap in there somewhere.

What inspiring advice would you give to other creatives be they established or just starting out?

Get a mentor.  Connect with someone who’s created for a living for a while.  I try to help as many people as I can.  I try to answer questions and inspire others.  In the beginning I reached out to a few people and was given no love, ha ha.  I felt very alone and frustrated and directionless. It was tough.  That’s why I never turn anyone away who needs help.  A real goal of mine for this year or next year is to start a mentorship program and connect new creators with people who are willing to be mentors.  I believe it is so beneficial for both sides.

Who are the makers that inspire you?

Rudy over at CraftBeerd Tees.  This guy (and his most lovely lady Amy)……what an inspiration.  Every time I get burned out or feel overwhelmed there he is – with a little bit of gratitude, excitement and happiness for me.  He’s not only an amazing creator he’s a hell of a guy.

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