Made in Arkansas: Hillcrest Waterbugs

In this Made in Arkansas story, you'll hear how one t-shirt became a national sensation and paved the way to changing the lives of people all across the state of Arkansas.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- You may not recognize the name Hillcrest Waterbugs, but you'll likely recognize the shirts they make.

In this ‘Made in Arkansas’ story, Amanda Jaeger tells us how one t-shirt became a national sensation and paved the way to changing the lives of people all across the state of Arkansas.

You may have seen the shirts while walking down the street or maybe on national television shows.

“…Good Morning America, The Today Show, MSNBC, CNN…a lot of people have been wearing them when they go on the show. There’s been celebrities spotted wearing the shirts.”

It was a viral sensation on social media, but it all started in the Hillcrest area of Little Rock.

“Hillcrest Waterbugs became an item when I decided to make a shirt for just some friends and myself. It was basically a shirt with a cockroach on it talking about living in Hillcrest. It became pretty popular in that local neighborhood and we started made a lot more shirts,” said owner of the company, Jen Cox.

Cox spends many of her days traveling the country representing celebrities. But the rest of her time is spent constantly making new shirts with inspiration from “current things in the news, maybe it came from a songs, maybe it’s a movie quote or something plays off of something like that we try to do things that remain really relevant.”

Some of the shirts are often flirting with the controversial, and not afraid to make a statement.

“It’s important for us to be who we are and stand up for what we believe in we're very, very, at least I am extremely outspoken about my beliefs,” said Cox.

The shirts are always on trend by letting their fans have a say in what they create.

“People will email, message, text, or tap me on shoulder if they know me wanting shirts made every single day.”

But Cox says there is one type of shirt she will never make.

“We do not do anything negative. There is not one shirt that we would put out that's negative towards a candidate, negative towards a cause or negative towards any individual or entity.”

That’s because their goal is to spread positivity, like with the new ‘Be Kind’ shirts.

“Those are really doing well because in this kind of interesting time people are trying to take a step back and figure out what they can do and move forward.”

Each ‘Be Kind’ shirt funds 20 meals for Arkansans in need. Others provide a month of feminine products, and a safety pin shirt raises funds for Planned Parenthood.

The heart of the company always remains at home.

“I do travel a bit for my job but I also really like to be here. This is home for me. It always will be. This is where all my friends are and where I've grown up. I really believe in this state and I believe in the people that are here,” said Cox.

Hillcrest Waterbugs do all of their business online and also at local festivals and shops.

To check out where they will be next or to snag their latest design, click here


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