Interview with Toni Nicholson of RCTees and T-Shirt Giveaway

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And so it begins… The “Real Men Love Cats” t-shirt as seen worn by Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell. Photo courtesy of Kate Benjamin of Hauspanther.

Before I begin, lets just cut to the chase. I adore Toni Nicholson of RCTees, the t-shirt company forever immortalized by Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell wearing the iconic “Real Men Love Cats” t-shirt. While there is no doubt she is a warm, loving, compassionate, and generous human being, especially when it comes to helping animal causes related to adoption, spay & neuter, and helping misplaced pets in disaster relief efforts, it is her wit and razor sharp comedic timing that keeps me coming back for more.

For those of you that follow her on Facebook like I do, you know exactly what I mean as she throws her random one-liners at us to both educate and enlighten us with her stellar observations on an almost daily basis. This one, for example, cuts right to the heart of what is truly important in life – “Water is the most essential element of life, because without water…you can‘t make coffee.” Bravo, Toni. So well said and so astute… Anyhow, show me a cat loving comic who has heart of gold and I’m your biggest fan and so I thought it would be fun to interview her so that we could all  learn a little bit about what makes her tick. Oh yeah, that and the opportunity to win a cool RCTees shirt!!!!

So, without further ado, here goes:

1. Let’s get to know you a little bit. I understand you were a teacher several years ago and gave it up in a life changing decision to start RCTees. How and why did that all come about?  After 16 years in education, getting up in the mornings became more of a chore instead of something I enjoyed. I adored the kids, but the daily BS (bureaucratic stuff ) was absolutely killing me…the environment was toxic and I needed a change…so I quit. That was a year ago. Three years prior I opened our online shop RCTees, a spin-off of our local screen-printing business River City T-shirts. At the time, RCTees was more of a hobby to fill the void from empty-nest syndrome. Who knew I would absolutely fall in love with the wonderful world of Etsy, Internet networking and cat people. Mark (my husband) and I decided I should quit my job and focus more on the positive things in life. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made. (Lesson #973 If you do not absolutely LOVE what you do…then find something you do love, even if it means taking a risk! Life is too short to be unhappy! )

2. Your orange tabby cat, Abby, is a significant part of your life and RCTees. How did Abby come into your life and what kind of personality does she have?  Almost eight years ago we found Abby abandoned at a local park…this teeny tiny little kitten was in the top of a tree. We rescued her and I told Mark I would find her a good home… *smiling*. Her personality? When it’s just Mark and I at home she’s quite comical…very vocal and has her daddy wrapped around her little kitty pinky paw. She loves her dog too and is also quite a momma’s girl. When anyone visits, she becomes very timid and will hide. She is the sweetest natured cat I’ve ever had.


Abby in her full glory! Photo courtesy of RCTees.

3. You mention that Abby has a dog friend, just who is this dog and let’s get to know her. Twelve years ago I could not for the life of me figure out why this sweet little black dog took up residency on our front porch…until I realized that my 12 year old son was feeding her hot dogs. He said, “but Mom, I’ve prayed for a dog“…how do you say no to that? LOL, we named her Roxy and she is the perfect companion and has been a great sister to several cats over the years but I’m pretty certain that Abby is her favorite…they are just perfect together.


The boy, now man, responsible for Roxy. Photo courtesy of RCTees.


Best buds, Roxy and Abby, watching a little squirrel TV together! Photo courtesy of RCTees.

4. One of your most famous t-shirts is the “Real Men Love Cats” as seen worn by Jackson Galaxy of My Cat From Hell. Did you meet Jackson in person, or just how did it come to be that he found you and ordered a shirt?  I received an e-mail from cat blogger Kate Benjamin aka Hauspanther, “Hi Toni, I’m sitting with my friend Jackson Galaxy. Do you know his show, My Cat From Hell on Animal Planet? He’s loves the Real Men merch. If you’d like to send him one, he’d be happy to wear it around.” Excuse me but I nearly peed my pants…of course I would send him a shirt or two or three and the rest is history. Sadly, I have not met Jackson in person but hope to someday. Mark is from California and has family there so we do get out that way. (Oh and Mark is presently working on a new design for Jackson, we’re really excited about it )


A behind the scenes look at RCTees with Mark and Toni at the shop! Photo courtesy of RCTees.

5. Speaking of shirts, I understand it is Mark who does all the screen printing. Tell me about the RCTees process – who comes up with your designs and slogans for Mark to screen?  Together, Mark and I share our ideas, the artwork, photographs, etc. We bounce ideas off each other and believe it or not…we don’t always agree. Ha! Take the Real Men design… a little boy came to class wearing a t-shirt that read “Real Men Wear Pink”…I jokingly told him “No, real men love cats,” he laughed and laughed….(light bulb moment). You should have seen the look on Mark’s face when I told him that‘s what I wanted to do for our next design….it took some convincing but he finally gave in. It’s now our most popular design, both men AND women love it. (And in case you didn’t know, we use actual images of Abby for our cat designs.) Mark does get credit for doing the actual work, starting with the artwork, to hand printing each piece individually. My job is to get the finished merchandise photographed and listed on our Etsy shop. I’m also responsible for taking care of our RCTees customers, from the initial order to any communications, packaging, shipping the orders and then the final feedback.


Proof positive that women LOVE the “Real Men Love Cats” t-shirt too! Seen here is a picture I am quite partial to of my cat partner in crime, Christine Michaels, sporting it at last year’s BarkWorld Conference. along with the charming and talented Debbie Glovatsky of Glogirly fame.

6. Okay, keeping on track with Mark, I remember a photo you posted of him on Facebook, sound asleep with Abby snuggled by his side that maybe you took of him without his permission. Do you surprise him with these posts on Facebook or do you let him know you plan on having some fun at his expense!?  Good question. I do know him rather well….he’s not a bashful or modest person at all but out of respect I will “warn” him before posting if it’s something more personal…like the sleeping photo (is that not a precious photo!). He will typically give me the green light. I’ve only been scolded a couple of times for my FB post or comments and they had nothing to do with him. Ha!


Sorry Mark… this picture was just too irresistibly adorable and I had to share it. There is not a cat loving court in the country that would fault me for that. Photo courtesy of RCTees.


Sorry again, Mark, but there is just something about you and Abby together that melts my heart and I had to share another picture! She is such a sweetheart – while all of my cats are extremely photogenic, heaven forbid they would allow me to pick them up like that for a picture. Photo courtesy of RCTees.

7. Speaking of Facebook, you always post such great quotes and snippets of advice. Do you have a favorite quote you would care to share with us?   That’s quite a compliment coming from such an inspirational writer as yourself Deb…thanks!! I do have a couple of favorite quotes…
1. “If You Work Really Hard and You’re Kind, Amazing Things will Happen.” ~ Conan O’Brien
2. “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
3. “When the power of love overpowers the love of power, the world will know peace.” ~ Jimi Hendrix
Animal lover, hippie chick…what can I say? Ha!

8. Again, because we are virtual reality friends, I know a lot about you from Facebook and it is no secret I find you to be incredibly funny and I adore your sense of humor. Have you always had that knack of being able to make people laugh, or do you not even realize how funny you are?  How sweet of you Deb. I honestly never thought of myself as funny but I do love to laugh. When parents of students from school would say, “I really enjoy your FB page, you’re so funny” or “ that Abby is something else”… instead of asking about their child’s behavior in class, is when I realized that people actually enjoyed reading what I write…which amazes me!! I guess just put me in front of (or behind) a computer screen and I loose all inhibition….FB has created a monster. Mark even says, “who IS that person?”


Funny lady? What funny lady?!! Photo courtesy of RCTees.

9. I know my dream is waiting for the day you unveil something in a leopard print, until that happens, are there any big design plans in store for RCTees for the rest of this year?  Oh I know Deb….you are the Leopard Queen. Designs are not something you can force…and you never know how things will go over unless you just go with your gut and give it a whirl. Right now we are looking to broaden our cat line…and (covers Abby’s ears) we are also working on a dog line. And who knows…maybe even one day…leopard print.


While Toni seemed to like the leopard gift wrap I use when anyone orders a copy of Zee and Zoey’s book from me, Abby looks a bit leery of it, not leaving me feeling too hopeful that there will be a leopard t-shirt anytime soon… Photo courtesy of RCTees.

10. Last question – inquiring minds want to know – any fur siblings on the horizon for Abby and Roxy? Mark and I do want more kitties. This is the first time in a long time that I’ve only had one cat. Roxy is in her senior years and I just don’t think it would be fair to her to bring in any more kitties…she’s always been so accepting of whatever we brought home. I think we’re to a point that this should be HER time….hers and Abby’s♥

Thanks so much Deb…this has been so much fun. I do hope that someday we will be more than virtual friends. I think you, Dan, Mark and I would make really great beach bums and I think the beach would make the perfect litter box, don‘t you?

Thank you Toni – this has been so much fun for me as well. I too hope we will meet one day and it has been such a pleasure getting to know you and your beautiful family better. 

Hope you all enjoyed this – now please take a minute to check out the RCTees Etsy shop to see what awesome shirts and merchandise they have to offer. And don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win a RCTee of your own. The contest is open worldwide and one lucky random winner will be able to pick any t-shirt of their choice, men’s or women’s styles. For an extra chance to win, please go over to the RCTee page on facebook and give them a “like.” The contest will remain open until Thursday, August 15th, PST, and the winner will be announced on Saturday, August 17th.



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  1. What a great interview. We know the “Real Men” shirits….now we know more about the creator! Thanks!

  2. Kathie says:

    It’s fate! My birthday is Saturday and winning would be awesome 😉

  3. Kathie says:

    I like the Facebook page (Kathie CP)

  4. Loved the interview! Toni and I are Etsy friends and coincidentally planned a tee and book giveaway next week.

  5. Timmy Tomcat says:

    Oh My Cat
    Dad has that cool Tee
    A wonderfur intermew

  6. meowmeowmans says:

    What a terrific interview. It’s clear that Toni loves what she does!

  7. Heather S says:

    Fun interview! And thanks for the chance to win too!

  8. Deidre says:

    Great interview! Toni makes me giggle regularly on her RC Tees Facebook Page. Such a character! I also LOVE my Peace Sweatshirt that I purchased from her last year. Would be great to win one of her awesome shirts!

  9. Great interview !
    I keep my paws crossed that I will be the lucky winner 🙂

  10. Heather says:

    Great read! I love following RCTees on facebook. The pictures of Abby always make me laugh our loud!

  11. Traci Johnson says:

    Great interview! I, too, think Toni is hilarious and she is a bright spot on FB every day.

    Thanks for the chance to win!

  12. Lisa R. says:

    Great interview! I especially enjoyed the behind-the-scenes section on how the shirts are made. Count me as another that enjoys the whit and humor of Toni’s Facebook posts.

  13. da tabbies o trout towne says:

    grate interview Deb…and the shop does offer some really cool shirts !!

  14. Karin says:

    great interview,really beautiful stuff in the shop,they also look very high quality!

  15. Toni is the BEST! I have a whole slew of her RCTees shirts. They clearly let people know about my love for kitties AND my love for her designs 😀

  16. Clooney says:

    Great interview for sure! We would love to enter your giveaway please! clooneycreditcanada AT gmail DOT com

  17. Luke Gray says:

    I love love love my “real men love cats” T-shirt, even the tag made me happy!

  18. Luke Gray says:

    I love love love my T-Shirt and love the tag on it just as much! I will make sure to wear it around my next door neighbour who says he hates cats! Pure awesomeness! 🙂