The Real Deal: Katie Zautke

By Natalie Slieter

Images by Denise DePaolo

Katie Zautke began Dakota Uprising as a fun, fresh way to represent the state she loves. The Rapid City-based graphic designer launched her line of t-shirts, sweatshirt, and hats in 2015 with the hope that others would want to wear their hearts on their sleeves, as well. What she’s received has been a resounding “yes.”

Why did you want to start a clothing line?

Katie Zautke: The idea started with designing a line of tees for all of the Black Hills trails, sort of a ‘collect them all’ type of endeavor. Each tee design in the Trailhead Collection includes that trail’s elevation and mileage in a unique design. There were over 30 trail designs that were created, and it was actually a lot more work than I thought. After launching the Trailhead Collection, I saw an opportunity to really start something special in the Black Hills. I think everyone has seen plenty of touristy tees for the area, and my goal was to offer something more modern and chic that appealed to a younger and more local audience. My designs in the shop are intentionally minimalist and heavily typography-based, and they are printed on super comfy clothing.

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Have you always been interested in designing clothes?

KZ: To be honest, I was never interested in designing clothes. Dakota Uprising started as a fun, creative side project and has unfolded from there. At the beginning, the Trailhead Collection was basic enough to design, but now that the brand has evolved, designing for clothing has definitely become an actual skill I’m learning to develop. So far, I love every aspect of running Dakota Uprising – the networking, the designing, the photo shoots, managing social media and the website, meeting other creatives in the Black Hills and collaborating on projects, and hearing stories from people that love what I’m doing with the shop.

What are some of your favorite clothing items that Dakota Uprising makes?

KZ: My favorite designs, and the most popular ones, involve the ones that are really Black Hills specific. My personal favorites include the BLCK HLLS sweatshirt, the Cities & Towns tee, and the Lakes of the Black Hills sweatshirt. My new favorite from the Fall Collection is the SD 1889 tee because it’s super soft, lightweight and vintagey.

What kinds of new items and designs can people expect for the holidays?

KZ: I just launched the Fall Collection featuring quite a few items with the SD 1889 design, but what I’m super jazzed about are the local designs featuring Hippie Hole, Poet’s Table and the Community Caves. If you haven’t discovered these three places in the Black Hills, you need to get off the grid and do so, because they are rad.  

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Read the full article in the December issue, or click here