A Love Story that Birthed A Business Called Sproxte
This is the story of a budding business. But in reality, the business is born of a love story. Joseph and Tauheedah met in high school at Tri-Cities High School; he graduated in 2000 and she in 2001. An East Point native, Joseph went on to develop a love for both athletics and graphic design. The couple reconnected in 2007 and got married in 2009. Together they started Athlete Dream Image. Then something happened that would change their lives.
In 2008, Tauheedah was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy while pregnant with their daughter, making it impossible to work in her current position at the Dekalb County School District. Joseph studied at Bauder College and started a business in the family’s garage. Tauheedah answered the phone and did what she could for the business, but the illness drastically changed their lives.
Fast forward to 2011 to the women’s kickball takeover.
“We were the dopest kickball team in the league!” says Tauheedah. “We dominated—especially at looking the best! At that time, no one cared what their team uniforms looked like. Women were just coming out on the field with regular t-shirts with a heat press number on the back (1 color print). Our team, the Flowernades, played well and looked even better!”
The team got fancy, with 13 different uniforms to wear as they kicked the stuffing out of their competition. Joseph wanted to find a new niche outside of the usual uniforms for regular sports.
“He wanted to change the game, and since his sister and best friends and I were all on the team, he was able to be as creative as he wanted to with his kickball team jersey. That’s how the dope uniforms happened,” Tauheedah explains.
Then people started to inquire and it became a ripple effect! Now most teams that play kickball wear jerseys that Athlete Dream Image designs and makes in-house—brilliantly colored uniforms that feature players’ names, faces, and even scannable QR codes. They went on to offer other apparel through Athlete Dream—vibrant shirts that featured youth athletes, team names and numbers for the whole family. The level of customization along with the complexity of design and the unmatched colors made them sought after items.
That same year, Joseph was also working on something big. He was printing on batons, yeah, like relay batons. Using his printing knowledge and a secret wrapping technique that has cornered the market, Joseph says, “We are the only company in the world that makes custom sublimation batons, with full vibrant colors and designs, and you can put images on the batons as well.”
Next, something really interesting happened. They started getting big orders for batons. Google and Dow were using them as leadership tools. The company was growing; it was time. A Paypal loan for $1,500 started it off; they borrowed a total of eight loans, the last for $23,000, which Tauheedah says they used to purchase their first piece of large equipment.
“We were making good money being the No. 1 company in kickball apparel, so we decided to purchase our 54-inch Mutoh sublimation printer,” she recalls. “During this time, we did not have a heat press, so we would drive to Gainesville every day for a year to use a local sublimation company’s large format heat press to do all of our custom garments for the kickball leagues, 3D shirts, etc.” The owner of the Gainesville shop eventually offered them the opportunity to purchase a large format heat press so that they didn’t have to keep making the 2-hour drive back and forth each day, she says. In 2015, they purchased a large format heat press and installed three-phase electricity in the garage.
Sproxte, pronounced like “Box,” comes from the Greek word for “push.” The Whites kept pushing. Although Tauheedah was still ill, she used the time to think of every possible item that could be customized and that could be profitable. The small oven they had used to start testing ideas like customized baseball bats still sits in the huge space that now houses their warehouse.
They started to get fulfillment orders from other small businesses and apparel companies because of their unique printing process. In 2016, Ezekiel Elliot contacted them to start making sublimation products for his personal brand. They created custom compression pants for the No Fly Zone of the Denver Broncos. Then the New York Jets football organization became interested in custom tights for their entire team of players in 2017. They signed on to do product fulfillment for NFL’s Alvin Kamara, the NBA’s Rob Covington and the WNBA’s star native Atlantan Diamond DeShields.
“Doubt is a Disease”
At this point the business was still operating out of the family garage. The Whites met with Travis Jones, owner of several restaurants and other business ventures, who introduced them to Mack Wilbourn. When he stepped in to invest and support the Whites’ dream, they were able to move into the 7000-square-foot space near the airport that they occupy today. They have been there for just over a year. The fulfillment side was intriguing to Wilbourn. The thing that sets Sproxte apart is that they are a literal one-stop shop: they design and develop logos, do marketing and websites, make the product and ship it out all from one location.