Just like many pitmasters, M. Brady Clark has a passion for barbecue while maintaining a day job outside of the restaurant industry. But Clark isn’t a pitmaster: he’s a graphic designer based in Georgetown. Most of his work involves designing custom apparel for a company in California that supplies tour and retail merchandise for artists like Taylor Swift and Elton John. On the side, though, he enjoys providing design work for barbecue joints. Clark has collaborated with Brett’s Backyard Bar-B-Que in Rockdale, Brotherton’s Black Iron BBQ in Pflugerville, and Khói Barbecue in Houston, to name a few. Some of those designs are available on a website he just launched called Brisket Country.
The idea behind Brisket Country is to provide affordable design work and order fulfillment to barbecue joints that either don’t have a line of apparel or don’t have one they’re happy with. One challenge for joints jumping into the merchandise game, especially small ones, is the expense and space it requires to maintain an inventory. Shipping is also a pain, and many pitmasters don’t know where to start when it comes to designing shirts and hats. That’s why Clark wanted to help. His office is next to a screen printer that prints the shirts after Clark creates the designs.
The initial design work isn’t free, but Clark promises that the modest fees he charges are fair and assessed on a sliding scale. The biggest variable is whether a potential client comes to him already having a logo. For example, Clark says, “Convenience West [in Marfa] needed to retool their branding.” He came up with about 150 possible logos for them. That was a long project. Some operations just need to get their existing logo onto shirts and hats. Once the design work is done, there is no money up front for the apparel.
Brisket Country would like to feature a couple different barbecue joints every week. It will take a little longer for customers to receive their orders because of the structure of the sale. Clark explains, “We have their design. We mock it up and put it on our site. We then do a seven day preorder, presale structure.” At the end of the seven days, the preordered shirts are printed and shipped to customers. The barbecue businesses will get $11 back for T-shirts and $12.50 for hats. “It’s mailbox money,” Clark says.
The site is currently offering presales for InterStellar BBQ in Cedar Park and Convenience West. Apparel from a few other barbecue joints is on there as well, including one just added this week. It’s a design collaboration between Clark and Helberg Barbecue in Waco that reads “Support Texas BBQ.” Helberg just wanted to send out a positive message to the barbecue community during the pandemic. “While the barbecue family is suffering, we want to keep the screen printing presses going and help along the way,” Clark says, adding, ”If you want to be a part of this, hit us up.”