Images by Jeff Sampson Photography
There are two new players in the South Dakota market for local t-shirts. Both hope to fill the need of representing hometown pride literally on your sleeve. Both are based out of Sioux Falls. And, oddly enough, both are owned by cousins.
Scott Ecklund, 24, and Alex Anderson, 25, have been close their entire lives and started screen-printing shirts for random events and themes. After a while, they wanted to design something they would actually put on with pride.
“We started out doing custom screen printing, but after about eight or nine months we realized we wanted to make shirts kids are proud to wear, not just novelty shirts and cheesy family reunion shirts,” said Ecklund.
Hoping to start out the company as a charity, they planned to name it Cornerstone Clothing Company.
“The name came from the idea that we wanted to be a building block for other charities,” said Ecklund.
Their plans to sell their shirts in support of charity didn’t pan out, as it didn’t seem feasible at the time. Refocusing, they decided on Stone Co.
With “We are The Stone” as their tagline, their clothing business is aimed at those who share their same interests in skateboarding, snowboarding, motocross, snowmobiling and “basically anything with wheels or a board and gets your blood pumping.”
Anderson said, “We make sick threads and accessories for bros all over. Whether you shred or skate, race or ride, we’ve got the gear to cover your back and make you look sick.”
Other items include tanks, hoodies, snowmobile and dirt bike graphics, hats, cell phone cases, wristbands, skateboards and more.
Currently they have an online shop at thestone.co, and are in the final stages of having product available at local retailers (they have recently confirmed they will be in Sun N Fun Specialty Sports by year’s end).
Because of their passion for the outdoors, many of their designs are inspired by the Black Hills. Every design (personally screen printed on by the cousins) is first drawn out until they feel it’s ready to move to the next phase.
“Each shirt we create starts out with us sketching out a bunch of ideas for designs and refining them until we have a products we want to bring to the computer,” said Ecklund.
This can mean little sleep, as they both have full time jobs during the day. Anderson is an engineer at Integra Plastics and Eckland is a graphic designer at AlphaGraphics.
“We’ve had a lot of times where we were staying up until 4 a.m. to finish orders,” said Anderson. “Trying to juggle [work] with basically another full time job has the recipe for working very late nights, then getting up and doing it all over again.”
As new business owners, they have had support from other entrepreneurs through the process.
“Being a young business owner is honestly amazing,” said Anderson. “We’ve had a lot of help from other local businesses and that is always nice to see. I’m grateful to be part of such a great family community.”
They’re also grateful from where their roots are, which is why they do what they do.
“I think it’s important to keep it local and have a local theme, because I’m proud to be a South Dakotan,” said Ecklund. “We live in the best state in the U.S.”
Eventually they want to follow through with their initial plan to have a charity, as they are very involved already.
“We both have hearts for missions and go on mission trips regularly,” said Ecklund. “This summer I was in the Philippines working with an organization that rescues girls from sex trafficking, and Alex was in Guatemala building and distributing wheelchairs to people who couldn’t afford them. We would really like to have a hand in that in our day to day life.”
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