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Daily Inspiration: Meet Lauren Armenta

Today we’d like to introduce you to Lauren Armenta.

Lauren, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
My career in design started when my high school teacher, Ms. Wall, asked me what I wanted to do with my life. Back then, I didn’t know what design was or how it was different from being an artist, but I’ve always been open to trying new things out. So one class time, she brought in her partner, who I found out/worked with many years later, is Dan Perri, a very well-known Film Title Designer, one of his most known is Star Wars and had him teach some basics of design. He demonstrated some tools such as Photoshop and I kind of just fell in love with the idea of being able to create something out of nothing or combining things to make something entirely new. After that, I told Ms. Wall that this could be something for me. She immediately created a list of summer classes in the area she found valuable and said, pick two and tell me how you feel next school year. Well, I took a class at the Pasadena Art Center and a local lettering press class and knew this had to be it. That year she said let’s get your portfolio together for college. I feel very fortunate to not have only received a good education but for having a proactive teacher that pushed me into this. I’ll never be able to know how things would’ve turned out if I never got introduced to design, and I certainly don’t want to.

How I started my business was really a combination of my Chapman University education and the professors/ people I came to know there. I have always loved apparel but mostly graphic tees or hats with amazing branding and lettering. I would save up just to buy, for example, an Obey shirt down at the local skate shop just because it had some awesome graphics on it. Then I started realizing, hey, I can make some graphics that I enjoy and figure how to put it on a shirt. I’ll have my own custom pieces for fun events I go to that represented something funny, ironic, relatable, or impactful, so I started designing tee shirts. I think it took way longer than it should’ve for me to start designing shirts in a structural manner. Really, I started to because I enjoyed wearing something that expressed a part of me in a funny or weird way and my friends would ask for one too, so I started making a couple here and there. It just turned out that the people in my life really started to support the idea of making shirts and selling them. This was the beginning of that path in life entering my mind.

This may or may not be relevant, but the name of my business actually came from a college project. I had this professor at Chapman, Yasmine Say, who so quickly became a mentor to me. We had one project, in particular, that was for our Color class. The one guideline I remember is just having a product where you separate the differences by color. Having been heavily into the street art culture, I decided to create a line of spray paint cans. I thought it would be funny and ironic to have a spray paint can company called Tag. You’re It. That project and name stuck with me until years later, I made my apparel company, Tag. You’re It. Based off the idea of “tagging” in a positive fashion. There are so many ways in which I hate labels, so instead, we change the narrative. The idea behind the brand is to utilize the labels or tag(s) to foster your best self in order to tag others to explore the best of them.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
There were a lot of struggles when this first was coming together, lots of learning opportunities, I would say, in terms of how do you even start a business, where do you sell, and I think one of the greatest opportunities and learning opportunity was doing our first event over a year ago at an Arts & Beer Festival here in San Diego. If it weren’t for covid, we were in touch with the Agenda show, that would be great to be a part of something like that in the future. But really, the main challenge I am focused on is becoming 100% eco-conscious with our apparel. Of course, we have always put this at the forefront and we give portions of profits to places that help protect wildlife or ocean life, but we are in the middle of transitioning to find places that have 100% recycled materials but still durable and printable, reduced impact to the environment, environmentally conscious silk screening, including our own in house materials for printing. We want you to not only look good wearing our apparel but feel good about it too.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I came from a very corporate career path, starting out at NBC, Dexcom, and now I am currently a Product Designer at Intuit. All very great experiences and I am definitely passionate about what I do at Intuit currently. However, one of my favorite things are the freelance work I do for small businesses, such as Nostalgia, a women-owned, LGBTQ+ friendly, coffee company or the work I do for myself. I love painting skate decks. I’ve got too many to count at home and have been heavily considering starting to do custom decks for people. I also love lettering. I’m on the computer so many hours a day, I don’t want to loose the feeling of pen on paper, so often times I’ll take a song, pick a word from it and listen to it over and over again until I create a letterform of that word, then ill do something dramatic like spill stuff or light it on fire and post it. I also love going nuts with my spray paint. Anything I’ve ever spray painted had no plan, just a bunch of spray paint cans and seeing where that led.

So maybe we end on discussing what matters most to you and why?
The ocean. It is my place of peace, it is filled with so many unknowns and beautiful things, and I want to take care of it as much as it does me. This is why I am doing everything I can to get to a place where we aren’t just giving to ocean conservation, but we are making sure what we do and make have a minimal impact to our environment as a whole. I want to make impactful, funny, ironic apparel, but do it in a way that up levels life, not takes away from it.

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