YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — A clothing line based in Youngstown is using its vintage-inspired designs to do more than promote products made in Ohio, it’s supporting the lifesaving efforts of a Mahoning Valley hospital, as well. 

What You Need To Know

  • Linda Barton started Sweet Memories Vintage Tees after shutting down her screen printing business during the pandemic
  • Her tees showcase vintage brands, especially those founded in Ohio
  • Proceeds from sales go to Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoninig Valley

For Linda Barton, Sweet Memories Vintage Tees symbolizes a fresh start, even though the artwork is rooted in the past.

“This is a rebirth for me,” she said. “I feel like a phoenix rising out of the flames.”

The brand was born out of a slowdown in her screen printing business during the pandemic.

“I never thought it would be a brand at all,” she said. “I just thought I was going to pick up a big client.”

She reached out to the owners of Good Humor when she realized the company was celebrating its centennial in 2020.  

“The first ice cream truck invented in America came from Youngstown, Ohio, and Good Humor, which is pretty awesome,” she said. 

She wanted to print t-shirts honoring the hometown heritage. 

“They were excited someone showed interest in their brand,” she said. 

Barton’s success reviving the retro brand led to more clients. They’re now working with almost three dozen sweet treats, printing nearly 50 different designs with more on the way.

Sweet Memories Vintage Tees showcase candies, ice cream, and popsicles that have stood the test of time, using artwork inspired by original ads and branding.

Each is designed by recent Youngstown State University graduate Abbey Scoville, who wasn’t even born when Mr. Owl tried his first Tootsie Pop.

“I’d say I’m a very old soul,” she said. 

Scoville relies on research and deep dives into advertising archives to get a feel for each brand. 

Many of the brands the team works with have some sort of tie to Ohio.

“We made the Sweethearts with the ‘Love, All Time Classics’ with a shout out to Sweetest Day founded in Cleveland,” said Barton. “Because Sweethearts is an Ohio company.”

A history buff, Barton is excited to share little-known facts about everyday brands.

“Pez was meant to be a candy to help people stop smoking,” she said. “And the first Pez convention ever was in Mentor, Ohio, in 1991. It’s crazy. Everything’s from Ohio.”

Barton said her three children probably think she’s crazy for taking on this project, but hopes they’re proud of what’s been accomplished so far. 

“To take all these brands that I grew up with, and be able to build a business around it that gives back, is super rewarding for me,” said Barton.

A portion of each shirt’s sales is donated to the Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley for its Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Barton said the hospital saved her daughter, Gwen’s, life when she was nine and received treatment for MRSA. 

Gwen is now healthy and modeling clothes for the family business. 

“I think it says a lot about how they impacted our lives even 12 years later,” said Gwen. “We still think about it and that needs to be there for anyone else that needs that, as well.”

Completing the circle of giving is important to Barton.

“It gets me up every morning,” she said. “I have a sense of purpose. I’m not working for me; I’m working for a bigger cause.”

She enjoys taking her passion for the past to help impact the future. 

A rack of candy-inspired shirts is now available to purchase at Daffin’s Candies in Sharon, Pennsylvania. They’re looking for more retailers to host their products.

Sweet Memories Vintage Tees are also available online.

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