Ever wondered what it’s like to own a small business in Missoula? Or just wanted to know more about your local brands and companies? On my blog over the next few weeks, I will be featuring interviews with different Missoula small business owners. This week, on Unbelievab.ly, I’m going to start with the WYR Clothing brand! You know them from their signature state with roots design that started with just stickers, then grew to t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, flannels and more. My brother even has their design tattooed on his ribs! WYR was started by two friends, Aaron Sipe and Brandon Slocum. They sold their first shirts out of the back of a pickup! So what drives the WYR clothing brand? What do they hope to accomplish in the future? Read on to find out!
Q: What is WYR Clothing all about?
A: WYR Clothing has been in operation since 2011, mostly selling products online direct to customers and to wholesale accounts (UM Bookstore, Murdoch’s, Scheels, Buckle, etc.). In 2016 we opened our first brick and mortar in Downtown Missoula.
We believe in a lifestyle, and we believe that passion and pride for your roots should be worn, giving you and the people around you a constant reminder of your home and a feeling of pride. Whether you consider your birth state your roots or a state you’ve planted your roots, we can accommodate everyone.
We sell Men’s, Women’s, and Youth clothing, as well as accessories (hats, sunglasses, air hammocks, backpacks etc.).
Q: What made you want to start your business?
A: Aaron’s background is in graphic design; he designed the Montana with Roots logo and showed it to his childhood friend Brandon. The two of them knew they hit a gold mine. They started printing shirts and making stickers that Brandon sold from the back of his truck or out of a backpack around town. They got their first wholesale account, the University of Montana Bookstore, and from there it’s been growing at an extremely fast and fun pace. Ultimately, the design and insane growth potential behind the state with roots concept is what made them want to start their business. It’s been a passion project since then.
Q: How would you describe your customers?
A: Simply put, we have the best customers. Especially since opening our store in Missoula, we get to hear people’s stories about why they love Montana. Most still live here, but some are home visiting and want to take a piece of home with them when they leave. Our customers are passionate, prideful, and the BEST!
Q: How do you choose what products are sold at WYR?
A: We pride ourselves on using top quality products. Our favorite and bestselling products are all tri-blends (cotton/poly/rayon). It is the softest material on the market, and with the Poly/Rayon blend there is little to no shrinkage after washing. Before we bring a new product in, we ask ourselves if it is something we would wear or our friends would wear. We’ve got a pretty good pulse on the market and on our consumer; soft, comfortable, and attractive color combinations will move a product.
Q: What do you think is unique about owning a small business in Missoula, MT?
A: We have two locations; one here in Missoula where we have our store and office, and the other in Arizona where Aaron and the production team are. With the advances of technology, communication and social media, we get to live and work in a “small” town. We are able to market ourselves nationally but remain in Missoula where our families, lifestyle and homes are.
Q: Where do you see WYR Clothing in 10 years?
A: Honestly, we haven’t thought that far, and our priorities right now are tomorrow and this year. Easy answer is that we hope to still be around and relevant. We hope to create WYR Clothing as a brand. We want to be known for more than just our State with Roots design.
These responses were provided via email by Alyssa Raser and the WYR clothing owners. This article will also be featured on thenancylouise.com. Thanks for reading!
Written by Nancy Greger