Austin Lee, Calvin Bahl, and Colton Harris had very similar schedules during Sophomore year as they attended Union High School. It was in their AP Computer Science Principles class when Calvin proposed the idea of selling humorous t-shirts displaying their teacher's face featuring the very popular AP Biology teacher: Kelcey Burris.
This marks the beginning of ThreeFreeTrees Company.
Uncertain about Mr. Burris’ reaction to their proposal, they launched this website and pitched their idea as the Shark Tank theme looped in the background. The Star himself endorsed their ridiculous idea and gave them approval.
They knew they needed to spread the word about this crazy new idea, so they printed hundreds of flyers and taped them above every urinal and inside of every bathroom stall across the entire school.
Once they finalized a design, Austin and Calvin spent two days ironing Mr. Burris onto all of the shirts.
Their creative idea turned out to be a success; the shirts were widely adored by both past and current AP Biology students. The shirts sold out in less than a week.
At this point, classmates wanted more shirts but they remained out of stock. For the final month of school, they released Mr. Burris stickers.
The 3 of them became really excited and knew they wanted to take this further, much further. However, the ASB office revealed that they could not sell merchandise at school unless directly through the ASB office. Additionally, they couldn’t infringe on the sales of the existing Student Store.
They respected the ASB office's wishes and decided to not sell on campus anymore. Instead, they moved to an online store. With this transition, they continued to brainstorm new Union High sticker designs to appeal to a greater audience.
They knew that they had created good quality merch that students would actually want.
As they expanded, their roles solidified. Austin would be CEO, Colton would be COO, and Calvin would be President. The team would also consist of Holly Burris (Mr. Burris' daughter) and Michael McCann. Others like Steven Nguyen and Jake Page offered to help when needed because they also believed that Union would benefit.
They placed one of the largest orders in ThreeFreeTrees history that consisted of Union Stickers, Titan Window Decals, Supreme Union stickers, ThreeFreeTrees logo stickers, and ThreeFreeTrees Magnets.
With some initial funding from members, they began collaborating with a classmate named Sydney Murphy. She was the artist for the Union High School sticker pack.
The team got together and packaged hundreds of stickers ready to mail out to customers. Throughout summer, they prepared for upcoming monthly product releases.
As school started again, advertising continued. This time even expanding to advertisements on mailboxes.
ThreeFreeTrees secured their partnership with Union High's National Honor Society and created their first ever club shirts.
The AP US History teacher Mr. Jeffrey became the 2nd teacher ever to be featured on a sticker.
AP Physics teacher Mr. Schmierer is now the 3rd teacher as a sticker in a breakfast themed collection.
"Through the years, we've continued to improve with every new product and each item is still hand packaged. Our primary goal is to create popular designs while learning and improving with every new product. Thank you so much for your support!"
"We're extremely proud of what we've accomplished, but unfortunately many members have parted ways as ThreeFreeTrees continues on. Two years since the launch of the Mr. Burris shirts, our remaining team has shifted our focus onto The Bear Game."