Naked Mangoes is unapologetically authentic and that is how shop owner Jessica Markovich wants it. “Most of my designs center around feminism and female empowerment because I practice these principles every day of my life, whether at work with a 75% male staff or trying to set an example for other women and young girls,” she shared. “I also have a dark sense of humor – I am the house of Slytherin after all – and love designing items that have a shock value, like my ‘Be Nice or I’ll Poison You’ or ‘Free the Belly’ designs. Most of the time I will not get the ‘Awww, that’s so cute’ reaction from my customers and I am 100% okay with that.”
Naked Mangoes screen-prints apparel designs for kiddos through adult sizes. “Most of my designs are handmade by me. The screens are coated and prepped by my husband, and then I hand print each item with a squeegee and ink and cure the ink with a heat gun,” Markovich explained. “But, it doesn’t end there. Most people will request their tee cut with fringe or a front knot. Most people don’t know how much work goes into each item.” Her favorite t-shirt design is the “Sour Girl” design (inspired by the Stone Temple Pilots song). “It was my first acid washed design I ever did. It set me down the path of bringing in retro 90’s and grunge designs when I was simply doing what I loved and making things for my daughters.” Small shoppers love the Naked Mangoes rainbow ombré designs, so much so that Markovich does not regularly list them for sale on her website, but only during her ready to ship sales. “It requires me to take the six colors of the rainbow and carefully flood the screen with these colors and print them perfectly on the garment. The error rate is high for rainbow prints, but they always sell quick!” While the design process has become a creative outlet for Markovich, she most enjoys when the kiddos love wearing her apparel. “I love when parents comment about how much their kid loves something I made because I hope it is giving them the same confidence and joy that I see when my girls wear something they love.”
Markovich ventured into t-shirt printing in 2016 while pregnant with her oldest daughter, Shiloh. “When I found out I was pregnant with a girl, I wasted no time in creating designs that were more empowering to females. I spent months in my garage teaching myself how to screen-print the old school way – coating screens with emulsion, burning the image into screens using exposure by sunlight and hand pressing items with real ink,” she recalled. “The amount of patience it took to perfect the craft most likely made me a more patient mother when Shiloh finally came!” She initially named the shop “Naked Mangoes” back in 2016, but later switched to “That Oregon Girl” before finally reverting back to the original name. “When I was younger, I had a journal that had quotes scattered all around it and one asked the question, ‘Have you ever ate mangoes naked?’ and that had always stuck out to me,” said Markovich. “I liked the idea of living a carefree life, but being weird and quirky at the same time. It also represents idealism. How would you act or be if you were taken out of your shell? Mangoes are one of the tricky fruits to peel, but the reward when you peel a mango and enjoy the delicious fruit inside is worth all of the work.” Two daughters later, Markovich is still dedicated to promoting women’s rights and gender quality. “When I first started, I felt like most people viewed ‘feminism’ as a bad word and for that reason, I held back more than I do today. My shop started when Obama was president and now it is Trump. I think many people have become more vocal under the current circumstances and they have put their passion into their craft – myself included,” she exclaimed. “Mostly, Naked Mangoes has evolved in a way that has enabled personal growth within myself. Sometimes, you have to tell people ‘no’ and that is okay. You can’t please everyone and stretching yourself too thin isn’t worth the possibility of my shop becoming something that doesn’t bring me joy.”
Check out all the snarky designs in the Naked Mangoes online shop here and join the VIP Facebook group for sneak peaks, especially while Halloween is creeping close (“Expect some awesome new Halloween designs, but also some in-your-face designs since the 2020 election is around the corner.”). Plus, use the code “smallshopdrop” to save on your next purchase. Thanks Jessica!