Joe Linstroth 
Co-owner & sales director Organic Tee Star
PPAI 821574

How did your company get its start?

Organic Tee Star actually got its unofficial start 25 years ago in Bulgaria, of all places. That’s where I met the company’s founder and co-owner, Deyan Angeloev. Fresh out of college, I was teaching English in the same town where Deyan was finishing up his master’s degree in advertising. We’ve stayed great friends for all these years, and I’ve watched him build a successful business in the European Union’s promotional products industry, particularly with organic cotton apparel.

During my annual visits back, usually over a bottle of wine, we’d often talk about how we could work together to bring his portfolio of sustainable apparel and gifts to the States. Well, the pandemic happened, which gave us some time to really dive in, and Organic Tee Star was officially born. 

What led your company to enter the promotional products market?

Sustainability is the future of many industries, including ours. Being conscious of our energy usage and the resources and materials we put into our products, decoration and packaging not only makes sense as responsible humans, but, as we can all see, it’s starting to make a lot of business sense, too.

In our case, there’s a market for high-quality apparel made from 100% certified organic cotton, and it’s growing. We’ve seen this growth in Europe, where we’ve worked for many years, and thought the time was right to enter the market here. Already, we’re one of the only suppliers in North America with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) certification, which guarantees that our products and decoration techniques meet strict environmental and labor standards that are internationally recognized. 

What’s your favorite thing about being in the promotional products industry?

We love educating sales reps about sustainable apparel. There’s a lot to learn – from cotton cultivation and manufacturing to the decoration techniques and even experiencing the different feel of organic cotton. Plus, the benefits of organic are huge: smooth and durable yarn, recyclable, nontoxic, hypoallergenic and thermoregulating, to name a few. It’s so much fun to work with sales reps from all over the country, veterans and those new to the industry alike, who are eager to learn about the benefits and value of sustainable products so they can pass that knowledge along to their clients. 

Why did you join PPAI?

We joined because the benefits of being a PPAI member are valuable and many. As a new supplier, a PPAI membership offers a boost of credibility that gives us a chance to earn the rest on our own, which is all you can ask for. We also knew it would put us in front of many new customers, offer opportunities to share our knowledge and passion for sustainability, and, of course, showcase our products and develop relationships at The PPAI Expo.


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