‘Spider Apparel’ brings custom clothes, Cape Verdean culture to Onset

Jul 25, 2020

Wareham natives Larry Senna and Shannon Sylvia have teamed up to create a new business, bringing creative, custom clothing designs to Onset, while honoring their Cape Verdean heritage and culture. 

Located at 239 Onset Avenue, Spider Apparel has a two-pronged business model: Customers can have their own ideas turned into a reality or choose from pre-made clothing and accessories. 

The “Spider” comes from Senna’s nickname from back in his basketball days, when he was known for his long arms and quick reflexes. 

Basketball is also where he got his start designing custom shirts. 

As an assistant coach for Wareham High School’s basketball team, he designed warm up shirts for the Vikings, and, later, for other schools as well. 

Sylvia said he started designing t-shirts about four years ago “more or less as a hobby.”

He started making shirts for himself and his kids, but as he gained experience, he started getting more and more requests from others.

Together, they opened the new store in March, but as Senna said “then the pandemic came and we had to close down.” 

“It was scary in the beginning,” Sylvia noted, since the store had to survive its first few weeks entirely through online sales and social media. 

Now that the store is reopened, customers can bring their ideas to Senna and Sylvia, who turn them into wearable apparel using techniques like screen printing, and sublimation.

Examples of their work now line the walls of the store. The most popular designs are those that honor their Cape Verdean heritage and culture. 

On Friday, July 24, the store was full of shirts, masks, and even coffee mugs with Cape Verdean flags, and messages like “Straight Outta Cape Verde” and “I heart CV.” 

“Our culture needs to be shown,” Senna said. The store is one of the few places in the area specializing in Cape Verdean representation, which allows members of the community to shop locally, while in the past, they would likely need to travel or shop online for similar products. 

Sylvia agreed that representing Cape Verde is important to him because “it’s part of me, my heritage, my people.” 

Another popular request recently has been for clothes representing the Black Lives Matter Movement, which is something Senna said he is proud to support. 

Other designs representing Wareham, Onset, and other ethnic groups like Irish and Italian-Americans are also common. 

Senna said that he has also made designs for businesses and the Wareham-based nonprofit group Community Youth Empowerment. 

While both men specialize in designing t-shirts, the store also has masks, hats, sweatshirts, and coffee mugs for sale. 

Senna said that custom masks have been a sizable portion of the store’s business, as mask sales have been on par with shirt sales recently. 

He’s also teamed up with some local jewelers who have their products on display in the store. He said the jewelers would normally sell their products at the annual Onset Cape Verdean Festival, but since the festival is cancelled this year, he wanted to give them another venue. 

In future years, Senna said he hopes to draw festival-goers to his store, since he is in a prime location to do so and makes Cape Verdean representation a key part of his business.

Sylvia said that the benefit of shopping at Spider Apparel compared to a larger chain store is that “we have a more one on one relationship” with customers, by allowing them to come up with their own ideas. 

Sharon Mclean visited the store on Friday morning, and seemed to agree with Sylvia’s sentiment. 

“This is perfect,” she said, as she had been looking to have her own photographs designed on clothing, but wasn’t able to do so at a store she tried earlier.

Spider Apparel is now available for appointments for custom designs. The store is also regularly open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The two designers split up the work day, with Senna typically manning the store earlier in the day, and Sylvia later on. 

That’s because they are both busy with other careers. Senna owns L S Computers and Cape Cod Lobster Rolls, both of which are directly next to Spider Apparel. Sylvia works for Eversource. 

To schedule an appointment, call 508-743-1673.