Heart on your sleeve

Peyton Dufrene
Peyton Dufrene, owner of 272 Graphics, draws most of his t-shirt designs by hand. The images focus on New Orleans and are sold online and in Fleurty Girl shops throughout the city.

Luling businessman donates a quarter of t-shirt profits to charity

Luling native Peyton Dufrene has always enjoyed creating art, but as an engineer at Monsanto he does not have a creative outlet at work.

Now that he has started his own company from his garage, he draws free-hand designs that are worn by men, women and children throughout the New Orleans area – and he’s giving back to the community.

Eight years ago, Dufrene and his long-time friend, Rhitt Growl, started printing t-shirts out of a garage as a small-time hobby.

The two were both graduates of the talented art program through middle school and at Hahnville High School. While Dufrene went on to get a degree in engineering, Growl earned a degree in graphic design.

After college, the two got back together to go back to their artistic roots.

“In college and afterward, I was always looking for a way to continue creating art,” Dufrene said. He even designed the 25th Annual Luling Mardi Gras Parade poster, the 2002 Alligator Festival poster and an HHS football poster.

“My friend and I decided that shirts was a way to continue creating art – we thought it would be fun to print and wear our own shirts,” Dufrene said.

So the two started out in Growl’s garage with nothing but $100 and an idea. While Dufrene and Growl eventually went down separate roads, Dufrene took the shirts and decided to form his own company.

“It is a great feeling to see people wearing something that you designed and produced,” Dufrene said. “The challenge was the other motivation. It is not easy to create a brand that people like. There are a million t-shirt companies out there; making a successful one is the challenge.”

The brand – 272 Graphics – was named after the address where the two friends first began.

He got his entire family involved in the business – his mother, wife and cousins help to sew tags on the shirts while his dad, sister and friends help with deliveries.

The shirts are still made out of a room in Dufrene’s house, but now the designs are sold online and in Fleurty Girl stores on Magazine Street, in the French Quarter and in Lakeside Mall.

“Our sales have tripled over the last six months and are continuing to grow,” he said. Because he has a full-time job at Monsanto, Dufrene and his wife decided that donating a large portion of their profit – 27.2 percent – to charity would be a great way to give back to the community.

“I guess it was the way we were raised. We believe that we are very fortunate to have the things we have, and it is our responsibility to give back,” he said.

In the past three months, the small company has given almost $1,000 to charities, including the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund, Hike for Our Heroes and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

They let their fans on Facebook decide who in the community should get each month’s donation.

“We’re trying to get more people involved,” he said.

Vote online at www.facebook.com/272Graphics.

 

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