Kevin Sumner’s grandfather was dying. Kevin had wrestled with how to share the gospel with him, but struggled for the words. Then, one day, while visiting, Kevin’s grandfather began pointing to Kevin’s t-shirt, wanting to know what it meant. Kevin was wearing a simple Christian t-shirt that day, but the question led to an opportunity to share the gospel – and ultimately, to his grandfather’s salvation.
That day, not only did Kevin’s grandfather receive the gift of eternal life, the seeds were being planted for what has become a ministry touching the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people.
1Eighty Apparel Group was formed in 2004. Kevin says, “We want to produce a product people want to wear, want to share and that opens a dialog about Jesus for them.”
It is very much a family business, as well. Kevin’s wife, Sue, had been a marketing executive for a number of years, but left that position to be home full-time with their kids and to support the business.
“I’m not an entrepreneur by nature,” Kevin said. “And not a graphic designer. But God has had His hand on this venture from the beginning. I worked in retail for years, and that prepared me for this in a lot of ways.”
And the Lord has continued to open unforeseen doors for 1Eighty. In recent years, their shirts have been endorsed by a rapidly growing audience of well-known names, including Casting Crowns, Newsboys, Jeremy Camp, Kirk Cameron and Third Day.
“We’ve never asked artists, athletes or actors to wear our products,” Kevin said. “I continue to be humbled by God’s blessings in this,” Kevin said. “I am in awe that I get to do this.”