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, sweatshirts, 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 minimalistic and heavily typography-based, and they are printed on super comfy clothing.

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. 

Why are people so excited about hyper-localism?

KZ: Hyper-localism is definitely a trend I believe we will start to see more and more. Being a part of something that is so locally-focused brings a sense of community to the area that may have been missing. It gives people that opportunity to rally around something they love, and with Dakota Uprising, that means celebrating the Black Hills. I’ve heard from many people across the country that, for whatever reason, have moved away from the area despite growing up here, and they are thrilled to be able to represent this place they love at their new location. I’ve shipped to over 25 different states as well as Australia and have found that being locally-focused doesn’t necessarily mean your audience is within a 100 mile radius of you.

What do you love about the Black Hills?

KZ: There’s not enough time to list out everything I love about the Black Hills! I love hiking and going for scenic drives, visiting the different small towns out here and seeing what they each have to offer, attending events such as the Sturgis Rally or a classic car show, exploring restaurants and dive bars, and relaxing at breweries and wineries. I love the sense of community small business owners have for each other out here. It’s awesome to have the ability to take mini vacations whenever you feel like it, such as going camping or renting a cabin for the weekend. Having the Black Hills out my back door is something I hope I never take for granted.

For more info, visit dakotauprising.com or follow on Instagram @dakotauprising. Holiday orders accepted until December 7. •

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