Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 11/15/21 – Business owner Amy Jo Malone has fond memories of spending time in and around Hollywood with her two older sisters, Susan and Jane, and looks forward to her next madcap reunion filled with shopping, lunches, touring, and more.
By Debra Wallace
The Chicago native and owner of t’inked, an online T-shirt business that taps into her creative energy, and her loves, for art and design. She took her inspired ideas and combined them with her entrepreneurial spirit; and from this, her new business was born.
A true Renaissance woman, Amy Jo Malone loves hearing from happy customers around the nation when their new tee has arrived at their home. She also revels in spending time with close friends during the holidays.
The former owner of Amy Jo Jeans (which closed in 2004), this Chicago-based powerhouse wanted to “design, build, and learn” while (literally) rolling up her sleeves, working hard, and contributing to her household.
Her exciting new venture, t’inked is an entirely different type of company because of the product type, but also due to the execution and marketing.
Once shoppers browse the website, they find their favorite (short-or-long-sleeve) tee or sweatshirt, and a wearable work of art becomes a true expression of their personality.
The happy customers speak glowingly about t’inked. “This t’inked tee with the cheery pink fish has been my summer go-to top. It’s a classic look with a fun twist,” said Brenda Smith, a massage therapist.
“I have worn it to work, to outdoor festivals, and under a jacket for adventures on cooler fall days. It’s the softest fabric and retains its shape after many trips through the wash,” Smith explained. “The t’inked designs are so unique, I am looking for more tees and sweatshirts for the cooler weather. I will be a fan for life!!”
The designs capture the hearts and imaginations of her customers from 12 to 92, and each one can identify with their special purchase. In fact, Malone’s lifelong friend is 92-year-old Adele, with whom she enjoys having lunch and exploring their native Chicago.
What does Malone love about her company and its products? “We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we do draw inspiration from the current events, culture and art, as well as our surroundings, and the internet. In one or more of our products, we hope you will find your story to style just your way.”
Amy Jo, since the holidays are around the corner, please share your special holiday traditions.
When I was growing up, my family would spend time with Adele, and her family. I confide in her with things that I never even told my own mother. I’ve gotten close to her daughter and two sons. Adele and I have been spending more and more time together, grocery shopping and having lunch or dinner. I love spending time with her and consider our friendship more precious than any gift that you can hold in your hand. She recently did a Tik Tok video with us.
My husband and I look forward to spending Christmas Eve with a group of friends from all different walks of life which I call our own melting pot. My husband and I have a tradition of movies and dinner and Christmas, and we invite anybody who doesn’t have a place to go.
Why do you care about your neighbors and community?
My first job as a teen was working at a nursing home. I learned about what growing old means. I read articles about aging and it gave me a deep respect and love for older people. They are so smart. I am in awe of their wisdom and experience. It is really a wonderful thing if a family has one or more elders to share stories and their deep love with them.
Please tell me about your favorite memories of spending time in LA or Hollywood?
One of my sisters lives in Brentwood, one lives in Louisville and I live in Chicago. I have many fond memories of us getting together in all three areas of the country. One time we bought a star map and went into the Hollywood Hills to look for celebrity homes and we laughed all day at the silliness of it all.
There was another car following us and it was just hysterical. We shopped at Neiman Marcus and Barney’s. There was one time, in particular, where I went to get lipstick and planned to get in and out of there quickly and within five minutes each of us was getting a make-over and buying $300 worth of makeup. We’d go to the Apple Pan diner, a favorite of ours. We loved the famed Getty Museum, which has such amazing collections and views of the city.
You have a lot of favorite memories of spending time in the area. Tell me more.
Well, Venice Beach was my mom’s favorite place to go. She would go there to people-watch. We’d spend time in Malibu; we would have special dinners together. It was all about meeting my sister’s LA friends and everyone being together.
My sister, Susan Paillasou, is a luxury handbag designer for Luque, so we share a passion for fashion. We also love shopping together. I am the youngest and my Louisville sister Jane Marshall works part-time in retail and helps take care of her two grandchildren in Dallas. We have such a great time whenever we are together.
What celebrities would you love to be t’inked? And why?
My top two are Andy Cohen and Drew Barrymore.
Why Andy Cohen?
Andy Cohen is kind of a renegade with TV and his various shows and is also socially responsible and he’s just a lot of fun. I love him! He’s fun, fun-loving, creative, and a bit of a reality TV pioneer. I enjoy his interviews — they’re usually light-hearted, but he DOES ask the hard questions, too. It seems like he’s from a solid family; he’s relatable.
Why Drew Barrymore?
Recently, I’ve gotten into watching The Drew Barrymore Show since it is on in the morning here now. It’s not like any of the other talk shows. She has everyday people on, talks about real issues, is completely open about her past, and is self-deprecating in a humorous way. She’s both serious and fun-loving. I like that she led the show during covid with new technology regarding how she interviewed guests. I like that she isn’t super skinny nor a style monster; she is real.
I also like Matt Damon, not only because I love his movies, but because he gets involved with causes. To me, the way he carries himself and behaves during interviews, he seems like a regular guy.
Overall, why do you think we love and admire celebrities?
They represent something we like; we want to be. I’d love to have that job and lifestyle. Sometimes they are role models. When they are open, they share their trials and tribulations and we can identify with that.
I admire those celebrities who don’t take themselves too seriously and aren’t too full of themselves. Celebrities can have a lot of importance and positive influence, but I think of them as normal people. In other words, their fame and money don’t make me gush — it’s all about how they treat people and add to society that is impressive to me.
What are a few of your favorite things when it comes to the arts?
I enjoy music, movies, museums, and reading. I love Adele and old-time rock bands. I am a huge reader of mostly mysteries, memoirs, biographies, and historical fiction. One of my favorite authors is Phillipa Gregory. I love her British historical fiction accounts; Ken Follett–mysteries and historical fiction, Michael Connelly mysteries, and the Jo Nesbo mysteries. I’ve read Isaac Mizrahi’s and Leon Talley’s memoirs and loved them. One of my favorite books was the biography of John Adams.
What do you love about your business?
The freedom! I am always thinking of new ideas. I am more in-tune with whatever I am doing and that opens me up to more influences. I have time to exercise, and I can decide if I want to do volunteer work or see a friend. In other words, 9-5 doesn’t exist. I can commit to activities that are important to me.
What are the life lessons you want to share?
Be aware that you don’t know everything. There is always something new to learn about your business or hobby, etc. If something doesn’t go well, or how you planned, how you handle it is the lesson. What you do with the knowledge of that is the lesson.
What does your husband’s support mean to you?
My husband, Ted, is a pipefitter, and marrying him at age 48 was definitely the best thing I have ever done in my life. I asked him early on if he would do a Tik Tok video for the business and he replied, ‘I would do anything for you.’ He is the kindest person. I am so fortunate because this partnership that we have is irreplaceable.
What advice do you have for the next generation of entrepreneurs?
Research the competition. Research what separates you from anyone else.
Talk about your passion. Design is my passion and art is an extension of this. Part of it for me is what I call ‘divine intervention.’
These things were planted in front of me. The more I looked into it I thought I could make it work. when I do research. I find influences all over the place for my shirts. I know my competition and store my ideas. Figure out what kind of setup you have in mind. Know your finances. The gist of it is to research the competition – that will tell you if it’s viable. If it’s not been done then do it. Or if you think you can do it better, go for it.
Do you have a favorite T-shirt in your current collection?
The black sheep.
Why that one?
I like the black sheep because it means something you do, or the way you are is different from the pack.
Please share your website and social media links.