By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Aug 05, 2008 at 11:47 AM

Less than eight years ago, no one had heard of Threadless, a Chicago-based T-shirt retailer and community of designers. Today, thanks to the creative team behind skinnyCorp, the umbrella corporation started by Threadless's founders (Tom Ryan, Jake Nickell, Jeffrey Kalmikoff and Harper Reed) Threadless is a $30 million company.

If you don't know, Threadless is a social network for designers meets online apparel store. The company hosts contests and lets the community democratically pick which designs should be produced on shirts and posters and then sold. Threadless has awarded over $1 million in cash prizes to artists around the world.

It's this kind of innovation in design, marketing and technology that caught the attention of Milwaukee's Spreenkler, a group of local creatives who essentially want to help other Milwaukee start-ups strengthen the city's brainpower and entrepreneurial sprit.

Spreenkler, along with Moander Law Firm, Web414 and Bucketworks, invited skinnyCorp's Harper Reed to talk at Bucketworks tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 6 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is free.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”