Iowa entrepreneur aspires to sell 1 million T-shirts

In his business and his faith walk Rob Gettemy has felt blessed by the circumstances around him. His business–producing and selling T-shirts–is hardly uncommon. How he got to the point he is now and what his shirts represent is. Gettemy is the co-founder of 1M4JC, shorthand for “One Million for Jesus Christ.” His goal is to sell one million shirts with the acronym wrapped through by an Ichthus fish. The twist is each shirt sold has a serial number printed on the sleeve to show where within the prospective one-million Christ followers the buyer falls. “The idea with the numbers on the sleeve is to represent that we are all made in God’s image and that we all have unique characteristics. It parallels our lives,” he said. Since launching his Web-based venture in April 2008, Gettemy has sold just over 4,000 shirts. Acknowledging there is a still a long way to go, the Marion, Iowa, entrepreneur has been energized by the reception and business he has drawn through social networking, particularly Facebook. “The effect of using Facebook has been amazing,” he said. “It’s helped sales, but even more so are the relationships you build. People all over the country and the world have connected with us through Facebook and shared pictures with us in their shirts from all over. Things may not have developed as fast I envisioned, but it has been an amazing ride with the interconnectedness that has been created. “When we have people asking to pray for one another and for situations, that creates a sense of community, which is really overwhelming in some ways.” Financial aspirations aside, Gettemy hopes the shirts will create an easy way for Christians to express their faith. “With serially numbered shirts from one to one million, if we sold them all it would be hard for people not to notice and really generate conversations back and forth about beliefs,” he said. “Secondly it would help fulfill one of our original goals. The majority of us are not all that good at broaching the subject of our faith and this gives us a simple way to share what we believe.” The benefits are intended to go well beyond T-shirt wearers and 1M4JC’s Web community. Gettemy is committed to giving 30 percent of his take to mission groups. Twenty groups are listed on the 1M4JC site even though Gettemy isn’t anywhere near to turning a profit yet. “It’s very tough to balance because you want to say yes to everybody who wants to be involved,” he said. “At some point we would like to effect however many charities we can in a major way over the long-term. If we are blessed to get to one million people and create a community of people we help and a brand that people identify with, that is potentially a very good long term deal.” Personally, Gettemy grew up around Christianity but never fully embraced a relationship with Christ in his life. In 2001, he and his wife agreed on the importance of raising their family in the church, and like millions of others, went on a search for the place that fit them spiritually. That ended up being Antioch Christian Church in Marion, and through the teaching and prayer, Gettemy accepted Christ and was baptized in 2003. “By the world’s standards I was a pretty successful person, but the question came to me, ‘How could I combine my faith and my career?’ ” he said. That’s where co-founder and fellow Antioch member Jim Mayhew fit into the picture. Gettemy had the general T-shirt idea in mind. Mayhew had the idea for the 1M4JC concept “downloaded to him by God” Gettemy said, and the development of the company took off from there. Mayhew has left the company to pursue other professional avenues, but Gettemy remains thankful. “Jim was really blessed to have been given the concept for what is happening today,” Gettemy said. Prior to launching 1M4JC, Gettemy worked for Cedar Rapids-based Parsons Technology, which was a leading producer of computer-based Bible study software. CEO Bob Parsons sold the company in 1996 to Intuit, and in 1997 started domain name giant GoDaddy.com, now widely known for its sexually charged advertising. That irony isn’t lost on Gettemy as he grows his own Christian business. “I wouldn’t describe myself as an overly religious person,” Gettemy said. “I’m not the biggest expert on the Bible and I can’t get into super-deep theological discussions. I’m a guy who, by the world’s standards, had everything going for him and realized there was something missing. My hope is to share that experience with other guys and gals just like me.” Link: 1M4JC: http://www.1m4jc.com/

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