published Monday, April 7th, 2014

Man uses logo, apparel to spread good message

  • photo
    Tremayne Johnson, 26, founder of Fatherly Figure, talks about his efforts to help mentor youth and get fathers involved with young children in this March 26, 2014 photo.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

IF YOU GO

What: 2nd Annual Fatherly Figure Family and Friends Day

When: Saturday, April 26 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Where: Booker T. Washington State Park

Cost: Free

For more information about Tremayne Johnson's work and apparel go to: www.fatherlyfigure.com.

Tremayne Johnson knows the power of a logo. He saw it growing up in the Eastdale area. Easily identifiable clothing brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Sean Jean, Nike and others caught people's attention.

People thought if you wore those clothes you were somebody.

But the 26-year-old father has turned his own apparel and logo into something more than a commercial status symbol and is using his own apparel line to share a simple message -- somewhere there's a young person who needs your help.

Johnson's advocacy group, Fatherly Figure, came out of a blog he started shortly after graduating from Middle Tennessee State University in 2010.

He'd lost his first child, a daughter named Taylor, at 6 months to sudden infant death syndrome in 2006, when he started college.

That painful loss helped him value his role as a father, and when he later had the first of three sons he didn't take any time for granted. He also realized how much help he needed.

Johnson was lucky; he had a very involved father and stepfather.

His father taught him about finance and business. How to balance a checkbook and save money.

His stepfather taught him to clean the gutters, how to chop down a tree.

"I had the dream team," he said.

But many other children didn't have it so good. Absent or abusive fathers are a reality many have to face.

So he started blogging. At first about little things -- deals on diapers at local stores.

Then he put his marketing degree to use and came up with the logo. It's a silhouette of an adult male holding the hand of a child while the pair walk.

"Between the logo and the name the message really does speak for itself," Johnson said.

Every time someone approaches him on the street and asks about the hoodie or T-shirt he's wearing, he gets a little pulse of pride, Johnson said.

Last year he began holding community events, mostly in the Brainerd area, but he's looking to expand.

At one such event he met Lamont Patterson, who owns American Tires and Wheels on Tunnel Boulevard and runs the nonprofit Tunnel Vision.

Patterson teaches teenagers to do basic car maintenance and is lining up other skilled workers in carpentry, electrical and welding to do introductory classes for local youth.

"[Johnson's] very motivated," Patterson said. "I talked to him and told him I would love to collaborate."

Later this month Johnson is holding his second annual fun day event. He's applying for nonprofit status as he continues to sell apparel at near cost.

"The plan is to take over Tennessee," he said.

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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