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By choice: Word Play Tees

Jasmine Deforrest, of Word Play Tees. E. CAMPBELL PHOTO

By Eric T. Campbell
The Michigan Citizen

The tee shirt market is diluted with bold graphics and clever monikers. It takes something, and someone, quite extraordinary to break out of the crowd. Jasmine Deforrest, a Mumford High and Wayne State graduate, has taken her vision and created an imaginative line of tee shirts with messages that challenge the status quo.

Word Play Tees is the name Jasmine uses to describe her enterprise, but the terminology displayed in her designs goes beyond word play. The statements are bold yet leave room for interpretation.

The flagship tee shirt is based around the word, ‘Chosen’. It was an idea inspired on a Sunday morning three years ago by a guest pastor at Jasmine’s church.

“He gave a sermon about Peter, and it was basically Peter telling us that we come from a chosen generation,” Jasmine told the Michigan Citizen. “That sermon really spoke to me. Literally, when I left church I said, I think I’m going to do a line of tee shirts.”

After coming up with a company name, Jasmine spent time looking for partners with backgrounds in graphic design — she thought that her ideas needed to be channeled through someone with a background in art. After two particularly unproductive collaborations, Jasmine made what turned out to be a monumental decision— she decided to do it all herself. Through her day job she, by chance, met Gil Ashby, head of the illustration department at the College for Creative Studies.

“He really schooled me on graphic designers and their world,” Jasmine says. “Out of frustration I just said, forget it; I will create these designs on my own. It was like, these are my designs, they’re my thoughts, this is my baby, I want to do it.”

Jasmine got to work learning design and illustration software with the intention of coming up with a simple design concept that didn’t give away her lack of design experience.

“I had no idea what I was doing but I knew what I wanted it to look like.”

The ‘Chosen’ tee shirt has been the company’s best seller and its message is more inspirational than it is egotistical.

“I wanted the focus to be on the word itself,” says Jasmine about the ‘Chosen’ concept. “Just to put this shirt on gives me confidence and makes me know that it’s going to be ok, because I was chosen to do whatever I’m doing.”

Jasmine’s family has been a pillar of support throughout the development of Word Play Tees. Jasmine’s mother, Helen Simpson, takes tee shirts wherever she goes.

Jasmine and her friends have had “tee try-on” parties, during which they would try on different tee shirt brands to see which ones fit and felt the best. It was the feedback from these gatherings that led Jasmine to choose American Apparel and Alternative Apparel for her designs to be printed on.

Currently Jasmine works for an events company, but her tees can be found at the ‘Rubber Soul’ sneaker boutique in Royal Oak. She’s also hoping to have shirts in ‘Spectacles’ and ‘Flow’ clothing boutiques in the very near future. Other themes showcased on ‘Word Play Tees’ include “Souldier”, and “Say No to Crap Rap”.

The marketing management degree Jasmine received from Wayne State certainly works to her advantage. Word Play Tees has allowed her creative and intellectual side to rise to the surface.

“You believe that you were chosen by whoever your higher power is or whomever you believe in. Or if you’re married or have a boo, you may believe you were chosen by that person.” says Jasmine. “I really want these shirts to be like, you put these on almost like you’re taking on the world. You may put on your ‘chosen’ shirt with a blazer, because no matter what your boss is saying in your ear, at the end of the day, you’re here.”

Preview Jasmine’s current product line at


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