I was born in New Jersey and spent most of my life there before moving to New York about 10 years ago. While to most casual observers outside of this area New York and New Jersey are pretty monolithic, the truth is long-time residents of each know that each has its own very distinct culture.
Even though I’ve been in New York for so long, I still get feeling of “home” when I cross the tunnel or bridge into New Jersey. For some reason, the hoagies (not “heros”) taste a little bit better, it’s nice not having to pump my own gas or make U-turns, and there’s nothing better than a Jersey fresh tomato.
Most people don’t realize that originally the colonies, and eventually the states, were all pretty much independent of each other in the beginning. Each had its own government and each was pretty self-sufficient, and the concept of a federal government was there really to help out with things that no state could do on its own. Of course, over the years the size and scope of the federal government has gotten just a wee bit larger. Plus, things like railroads,the interstate highway system, and air travel started to grey the lines of the borders a bit. Today, if you go from city to city, you’ll see Starbucks, McDonalds, Walmarts, and other things that seem to make everything blend together just a little more.
And yet, talk to anyone who’s lived in their town for more than a few years and you’ll see that there’s still a certain pride in what makes them and the place they live in unique.
Basketbox is a fantastic company that creates apparel which anyone can use to celebrate their home state or hometown. It makes a fabulous gift for someone who’s proud of their roots, whether they’ve lived in their same state or town all their lives, or like me, have been uprooted but still feel a special bond to the place where they grew up.
The concept behind Basketbox’s designs is simple and yet brilliant. They have everything from T-Shirts to hoodies to mugs to pillows to mugs to baby onesies. The design is a simple silhouette of the state (or in some cases like Houston, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, DC, Long Island, Staten Island, and Brooklyn, a city or region) along with block letters that proudly state the demonym of that person, whether it’s “Hawaiian”, “Iowan”, “Californian”, or “New Yorker”.
As I’ve mentioned on the blog before, my daughter was born last August in Queens, New York. And so I jumped at the chance to have try out the “New Yorker” onesie.
The onesie came packaged in a beautiful gift basket, festively wrapped with cellophane that had a colorful, whimsical design and a ribbon tied into a bow.
The basket contained this onesie and this bib.
The first thing I noticed about the onesie was that it was made by American Apparel. I first got to experience an American Apparel shirt when I got one at a conference I went to years ago. Over the years, that shirt became my single-most favorite t-shirt. I don’t know how they do it, but where other brands of shirts (even well-known brand) are thick and uncomfortable to wear, my American Apparel t-shirt was soft to the touch from the first day I got it, and only seemed to get softer and more comfortable with every washing. It’s years later now, but that same shirt is still the most comfortable thing I choose to wear, and it’s withstood many, many washings.
I noticed the same thing about this onesie. Maddie loved it as soon as we put it on her. And true to the New Yorker that she is, she let us know it right away.
Today the onesie and the bib are probably among our favorites; while other bibs (include a New York Yankees one that was given as another gift) have long since been destroyed, this one is a really great quality one. And the onesie is just as soft and durable as my favorite t-shirt.
Most of all, as the first native New Yorker in the family (her mom is from Taipei and I’m from New Jersey), I love the fact that she can wear her state proudly. The onesie has gotten lots of smiles and great comments wherever in New York we go.
Looking through the other products at basketbox.com, there are lots and lots of other fantastic products, from T-Shirts for dogs…
…to t-shirts for human adults.
What’s even more remarkable is that a donation from each order is given to the International Dyslexia Association.
I asked the founder, Emmanual Sullivan, why he chose this charity, and here’s what he wrote back to me:
I chose the International Dyslexia Association because of my own struggles with spelling and reading in primary school. I conquered the handicap, for the most part, during high school. I had to work extra hard during those years and in college to advance. I really didn’t know until later in life that I might have the disability. Looking back, my parents and other family members struggled with it too. It’s something that lingers as well.
So, since my products have a spelling component, I thought the organization would fit perfectly with what we sell. I’ve only recently paired up with the association, but from what I can see they do great things with teachers and others involved with dyslexia. They are also very transparent in their mission and goals, unlike other dyslexia organizations that I’ve researched.
To me, it’s a brilliant pairing, especially given all the questions and debates people tend to have about demonym spelling. “Is it ‘New Jerseyan’, ‘New Jersian’, or ‘New Jerseyite’?” “Is it ‘Seattlean’, ‘Seattleite’, or ‘Seattleer’?” And so on. Not only will Basketbox apparel end the debates once and for all, it’ll let you proclaim your allegiances proudly. It makes a great gift for college students heading out-of-state for the first time, for homesick expatriates from another state, as a souvenir gift for people visiting your state, and much, much more.
Learn more at Basketbox.com.