FARMINGTON — Native Pride, a new Farmington T-shirt shop, aims to make people smile with humor aimed at Native American customers.
The shop sells about 20 different shirts, all with a message intended to amuse or resonate with local residents.
One shirt, for example, says "Mary had a little lamb ... But Grandma butchered it." Butchering sheep is a traditional part of Navajo culture.
Another one says "What's your clan?" on the front and lists Navajo clans on the reverse. Another T-shirt, for young girls, says "Future Miss Navajo."
Owner Jasper Joe opened the shop in May at 3030 E. Main St., unit X3. It is next to Furr's Family Dining, a well-known restaurant.
"Any culture, any nationality, should take pride in their identity and clanship," said Joe, who is Navajo.
Joe added that people should be willing to "poke fun at themselves."
Irving Bahe designs all of the T-shirt graphics. He lives in Twin Lakes, near Gallup.
"I was really impressed with his artwork," Joe said. "His artwork is really one of a kind. They're clean, they're not offensive and they're funny."
Joe, 60, said he has been friends with Bahe for about 15 years.
Joe, of Kirtland, previously owned Pathway Promotion, a music business that booked bands at venues such as the Farmington Civic Center. He also works for Newcomb High School as a community relations specialist.
"I've been in Navajo education my entire life," he said.
Joe learned one thing from his customers early on. He took his shirts to the San Juan College Pow Wow held at McGee Park. They sold well, he said, but some customers complained that his largest size was only XXL. Native Pride now carries shirts up to XXXL.
Joe jumped on the east Main store location when it became available.
"This is a prime location," he said. "When I found out it was open, I went straight to management and put down a security deposit. It has high traffic."
Joe also sells CDs of Native American music, some of which is inventory remaining from his previous business.
The T-shirts and CDs are the same price - $15 for one item and $25 for two. "We keep our prices down so ordinary people can afford it," he said.
Joe said he wants to both educate and amuse his customers.
"This is a real unique, different type of business that has a spiritual, cultural, educational value," he said.
Joe is looking to expand production and distribution of the T-shirts. He is confident customers will like them.
"I know this business is going to be successful," he said.