Spreading ((hugs)) through t-shirts

Small Forsyth-based business gives specially made shirts to celebs in national award show

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FORSYTH COUNTY, Ga. — If you’ve got teenagers in your household, you may have involuntarily caught the Teen Choice Awards July 22 on Fox.

But did you know that all the celebrity presenters and winners received goody bags, known in the industry as swag bags, filled with various products?

If Mary Guenther, of Cumming, didn’t know about the goody bags before, she certainly does now. Her personalized t-shirts were one of the featured products.

“I was a little skeptical when I was first contacted by event organizers,” said Guenther, founder of TxtHugs. “I kept getting emails that they had seen my t-shirts and were interested in putting them in the gift bags given to the celebrity presenters at the Teen Choice Awards. Because my company is so new and small, I thought it might be a hoax.”

Guenther said staffers had seen her t-shirts at a surf trade show and were interested in having them included in the goody bags.

The organizers allowed Guenther to choose which t-shirts she would provide to the celebrities, and she ultimately decided on two of her lines: “((hope)) 4 Africa,” which was based off some of the prevalent charities in Los Angeles; and “g2g USA,” which was the line she believed the staffers had seen at the exposition.

Guenther’s t-shirts combine the ideas of text messaging with showing love, and thus her first line of t-shirts is appropriately named ((HUGS)). Guenther said when you add double brackets to a word, you are indicating a hug.

“I came up with the idea of texting-inspired t-shirts because texting and all the abbreviations we use during texting have become a regular part of everyday communication,” she said. “Texting can be so impersonal, but I love the symbol for a hug in texting.”

Guenther’s entrepreneurial venture was inspired by her friend Adrienne Eaton-Smith, who passed away in 2009 after battling breast and later throat cancer.

Eaton-Smith always dreamed of starting a business and Guenther dedicated TxtHugs in her memory.

No matter who’s wearing her t-shirts, whether it’s a friend or a celebrity at the Teen Choice Awards, Guenther said she hopes that if nothing else, she’ll succeed in spreading happiness.

“I want to spread positiveness,” Guenther said. “And that’s what this is all about.”