Local company shares love for its home state

State of Mine Apparel, Columbus, Ohio

State of Mine Apparel is a local company that started as a creative outline for its founder and has since grown into a sizable clothing line touting Ohio love in its designs. Founder Dan was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about starting a business, sharing appreciation for Ohio and his future plans. See what he said below:


What made you decide to open State of Mine Apparel?

Well as of the past two years or so, I set out to make some positive changes in my life. Among these were to begin exploring my creative side, reading or learning something new every day, stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things. I’ve been in the restaurant/bar industry for the better part of two decades and felt it was time to try new things.

I’m a big fan of the local apparel scene, and I’ve always had ideas pop into my head that I thought would make good designs, but I’d never follow through with them. In the past, I’d get an idea and think about how cool it would look on a t-shirt, daydream about starting a clothing line, but then just go pour myself a glass of wine and prepare for the next episode of Game of Thrones. Eventually, I’d started sketching ideas on napkins or scrap pieces of paper here and there. This was a good start, although they’d eventually just end up in a drawer and get lost in the shuffle.

It was one day somebody walked into the restaurant with an almost identical design printed on their shirt that I had myself drawn out six months prior. I was originally excited about the idea but like most people, I procrastinated and talked myself out of taking any steps to make it a reality, making excuses on why it would probably never work or that nobody would like it. After doing some research, I found this design to be one of this particular store's newest and hottest sellers. The overwhelming feeling of regret for not following through caused me to immediately take steps in starting the process of opening an online store. Six months later, State Of Mine Apparel was born.


Why the name State of Mine?

Honestly, the process of coming up with a name was pretty nerve-racking. I suffer from mild to severe OCD that results in two hours of staring at computer screen just trying to come up with the perfect user name for my Netflix account, as if it really made any difference, let alone choosing a glorious name that would forever be branded in relation to a new business. I spent quite a few days brainstorming, playing with ideas, scrolling through an online thesaurus for hours on end, and then one day driving home from work the idea just popped into my head from the clear blue sky. (Although it may have been raining that day.)

The name had a perfect ring to it. Besides the obvious meaning, it’s also meant to be a subtle play on words. Much of how you approach anything in this world has a great deal to do with your perceptions and attitude towards life. Change your state of mind, and change everything. As of recently I’ve been travelling more frequently and if you glance through some of the photos on our website or Instagram, you’ll notice many of them are shot on the beaches of California, in the desert at Joshua tree, and even the Red Rocks of Arizona.

People from Columbus and Ohio in general are very proud people and though many migrate to other parts of the country through career changes or for family reasons, many small Buckeye communities are formed in these areas. You see examples of this in states like Arizona, South Carolina, Texas, California and many others. They move on in life to other locations with different opportunities but they always keep that Ohio state of mind. That’s why it’s incorporated into our tagline: Global Heritage, American Roots, Ohio State of Mind.


What advice would you give someone starting a fashion- or apparel-related business in Columbus?

First, as a disclaimer I’d like to state that I am by no means a professional in the fashion industry, as I myself am also new to the business. That being said, it’s for this reason exactly that I would encourage anyone to take a chance if it feels right for them.

It’s cliché, but we really do all have to start somewhere. Even Mark Ecko started out spray painting t-shirts in his garage. Your endeavor may lead to success or it may not, but the learning experience will stick with you forever, and who knows, it could even lead to new opportunities.

While at first you’ll be taking a leap, it doesn’t mean you should jump in blind. Before committing any considerable investments, be sure to do your research. Consider your target market, find a niche or preferred style and be sure to ask lots and lots of questions. You’d be surprised how many people are willing to share their knowledge with you as most will be flattered by your interest in their expertise. Talk to local apparel stores, clothing distributors, department stores, etc. You’d be surprised how much insight you can gain by just asking.

Last but not least, share your ideas with your friends or even random strangers to get feedback. It’s important to not dwell on negative responses though, as everyone is different with varied tastes in clothing styles. It’s an absolute wonder to me that high-waisted shorts made a comeback from the '80s, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t profitable.


Do you have a favorite piece you've done, or one with a special significance?

I’d have to say the newest “Love Ohio” piece has to be my favorite. Primarily from the way the design came about. A close friend of mine, Steph-Jo, has been very supportive of me from the very beginning, and her positive influence was a big factor in motivating me to start the company.

Originally, I had the idea of coming up with a message of “giving” during the holidays. It’s something that’s been reiterated many times in much of the self-development material I’ve studied and fit the holiday spirit perfectly. The idea occurred to me randomly to arrange block letters inside the state of Ohio outline and after some trial and error, it appeared to come out just right.

I sent Steph-Jo a screenshot to get some feedback and she said she loved it but that the “L” looked too much like a “G” (The abstract nature of the lettering allowed for the confusion). After some back and forth, we realized we were both analyzing two totally different words, and I came to the conclusion that while both were positive messages, the word LOVE would have a much broader appeal. It was almost so obvious I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me in the first place.

This would be a good example of why feedback is necessary and a new set of eyes can always bring a fresh new perspective to your work.


What do you see in the future for State of Mine?

Of course I’m very positive about the future and would love to see people representing our brand all over Ohio. I’d eventually even like to open up a physical storefront or two someday. That being said, I prefer to keep expectations modest. I always told myself that focusing on profits and bottom line as my primary driving factor would be starting for the wrong reasons.

While I enjoy the challenge and growth that comes along with it, I also want to keep it fun. My goal is to always keep things different and exciting and try out new ideas to differentiate us from other clothing stores.

I even thought about taking advantage of the blog feature on the website to share some of my thoughts and ideas, as that’s something new I’ve never tried yet always been interested in. Being involved in various events that help and support our local community is definitely something you’ll see from us. I’ve always had a lot of respect for companies that give back for a good cause during local fundraisers.

Right now, I’m just very thankful for the opportunity to share some of my creative side, having found a new hobby that I really enjoy, all the while learning a great deal in the process. Receiving a genuinely happy response from someone who loves wearing a product that I created is extremely gratifying. I’m hopeful this is just the beginning and am very excited for what’s down the road. 


Learn more about State of Mine Apparel (and shop!) at stateofmineapparel.com 

Monday, January 22, 2018