Straight from the desert of Tucson, Arizona comes a fresh and new eco-friendly clothing brand made especially for the souls of the adventurous. Sunbelt Clothing Company is inspired by the Sunbelt states– which is everything from California on over to Florida. The brand defines the Sunbelt states best when they say, “we are defined by our long summers and relatively short winters. As a result, we like to be outside! Whether it be going to the beach, camping, hiking, exploring, you name it, we’re probably into it”. Founder Matt Lindsey, a recent graduate from the Eller College of Management from the University of Arizona launched the first designs of Sunbelt Clothing Company in April of this year. Because the company’s mission of inspiring others to travel, explore, and discover new places resonate with my own personal life goals and purpose of my blog, I wanted to get a deeper look into this brand and share with everyone what really went into the creation of this travel-inspired company. I interviewed Matt Lindsey about the background and purpose of Sunbelt Clothing Company in regards to inspiration, the company’s goals, challenges he encountered along the way, and more! Later this month, Sunbelt Clothing Company will be releasing a couple of new designs for you to wear on all of your summer adventures. Keep reading to learn about how this all got started and to get a sneak peek and first look at the new designs!
How did you get the inspiration for your clothing company?
Matt: I got the idea strolling around the U of A campus one day. I was looking around, sort of taking notice of what people were wearing and I realized something: People love simplistic designs! The trends have sort of shifted from intricate, complicate art to simple graphic and logo shirts. Seeing this, I felt there was an opportunity to pursue something I love (entrepreneurship) and make an awesome brand. I then began to think of what would make an awesome brand, and Sunbelt immediately came to me. Make designs inspired by the awesome states around us. There’s so much to see and do! Not only did I notice a strong desire to travel by individuals, but also a strong love and sense of pride for the states they lived in. Then the idea quickly started becoming something I really saw potential in.
How did you go from turning the idea into a real thing?
Matt: It took a lot of research. I probably spent the first few months just strictly studying up on anything and everything that I thought could help my brand succeed. Once I felt comfortable with the information I learned, I started gathering everything I needed to start a business. I took care of the legal aspects, gathered the proper materials for my clothing, found an amazing designer to work with, and after a year of hard work I felt my small sketches and ideas were crafted to the best quality possible and I felt satisfied with beginning to make actual clothing.
What’s your company’s mission and goals?
Matt: Sunbelt Clothing’s Mission is simple: to provide top-quality clothing to adventurous individuals by combining comfort with designs that are specific to the Sunbelt States. A lot of people surprisingly don’t know what the Sunbelt States are! Basically anything from California to Florida falls under the Sunbelt. Think about all the cool things you can do between California and Florida—the possibilities are literally endless. Although we are a brand committed to making clothing specific to the Sunbelt, we want to go further than that. We want our brand to be a source of inspiration for individuals to travel, explore, and discover new places. We want people to see our clothing and context and to be excited to see something they’ve never seen before! If we can accomplish that, Sunbelt will truly be a successful venture.
Our goals are very simple as well: we want to inspire others to travel, create unique clothing that excites people, and enjoy the ride for as long as possible. There is nothing more fulfilling than when someone compliments your brand or is anxiously awaiting for their package to arrive. It’s amazing when you can provide joy for others. There’s nothing more gratifying than that.
What were your biggest challenges starting out?
Matt: The biggest challenge starting out was finding money to fund the company. As a student in college working a job that paid pretty low, it was definitely a challenge figuring out how all the funds for everything was going to come together. But I was determined to make it work. I wanted to try and start the company with only my money if I could. Therefore, I got a second job, started saving like crazy, and amazingly had the money I needed to launch my initial shirts. I was extremely blessed!
Another challenge along the way was finding a designer who was as driven as me. Unfortunately graphic design is not my expertise, so I had to look for outside help if I wanted the brand to succeed. It turns out the first two designers I worked with did not work out as I had planned. They provided some small help, but not fully what I was looking for. I lost a lot of time and money along the way. It was pretty discouraging, but I had too much passion to create Sunbelt to give up. Finally, after close to a year of searching, I found an amazing designer who is talented, works hard, and is passionate about what she does. Long story short: there were challenges along the way, but passion is what fueled me to overcome them.
What makes your clothing brand unique?
Matt: What’s unique about Sunbelt Clothing is what’s in the name: Sunbelt! The Sunbelt states are so unique. There’s oceans, deserts, mountains, forests, rivers, rain, snow, sunshine, everything! I’m surprised no one else has capitalized on this beauty. It seems like a lot of clothing brands today are surf, skate, snow, hiking, etc… which is fine but there is so much more out there. Our brands want to include everything you can do in these amazing states. As mentioned before, the possibilities are endless.
What would you like your customers to know?
Matt: There are a few things I’d like to say! Number one: keep traveling and getting outside. This world is a beautiful place and I am continuously amazed at what you can find out there. Keep exploring and looking for new sights and destinations. You will not be disappointed! Number two: I worked as hard and as passionately as I did to create Sunbelt because there’s nothing better than impacting someone’s life in a positive manner. Nothing beats putting a smile on someone’s face! If you get the chance to positively influence another person’s life, I strongly recommend it. Finally, follow your dreams and aspirations. It’s incredibly fulfilling. I was so timid to start a business, even though it was my dream. I always thought the worst: What if it fails? What if I lose all my money? What if people don’t care for what I’ve created? But I can tell you today I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything. It’s never boring when you’re working on something you love. So take chances and chase the dreams you’ve always had for yourself!
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone that wants to start their own business?
Matt: Don’t be afraid to fail. I talked about it previously, but I want to reiterate this point. Failure is not always a bad thing. I’ve come to realize that failure is a learning experience. If you look at it in that way, you won’t feel defeated when you fail. You’ll learn from it and be better off tomorrow for it. Starting a business is a big risk and the pieces will not always fall how you want them to. But you have to embrace that and take the bad with the good and keep moving forward. Trust me, the success I’ve had so far was totally worth the failures I’ve experienced along the way.
To look at Sunbelt’s current tees and to purchase the new designs later this month, head over to their website at http://www.sunbeltclothingco.com! You can also follow them on Instagram at sunbeltclothing. Cheers to a Sunbelt summer!
Now, take your first look at Sunbelt’s sweet upcoming designs!