A few weeks ago I read an article in the local paper about a friend and neighbor who had started a t-shirt company. Funny thing is I know him pretty well in that between various kids activities, neighborhood get togethers and living in a small town we probably see each other at least once a week. Heck, I ran into him on the soccer field yesterday.
I knew he was in the process of completing his MBA at Drexel here in Sacramento and that’s what gave him the kick. Well, the entrepreneurial environment created among his classmates and a segment he saw on CNBC about Vineyard Vines.
According to Mike Leister, “They always say “do something you love”. My family has been vacationing in Lake Tahoe since I was 6. Some of my fondest memories are from spending summer vacations with aunts, uncles and cousins in Lake Tahoe. Now, having a family of my own, Tahoe has become our backyard playground. Camp Richardson in the summer, skiing or sledding in the winter. So it seemed like there was an opportunity for a Lake Tahoe themed lifestyle brand. Ultimately, it will be a full line of casual clothing for Men, Women and Children, inspired by the Lake Tahoe lifestyle.”
Well, he had the idea and then one his final projects for his MBA was to put together a business plan. Along the way, he had to think about what to call his Tahoe lifestyle brand, and he said “Eventually I landed on “Tahoe Libre”. No, I was not inspired by Jack Black. I was inspired by the term used by Cuban ex-patriots: “Cuba Libre” or “Free Cuba”. It’s a call for freedom and liberation. I think those are qualities that apply to people who love and frequent Lake Tahoe. It also fits well with the environmental aspect of the brand. It’s not just a clothing company. It’s a company that is committed to preserving the natural playground that we all share. It’s a call to “Free” Tahoe.”
Now came the artwork, what would Tahoe Libre look like? Lucky for him, his sister is a talented graphic designer. When bootstrapping a startup, it’s good to use whatever connections you have. The Logo itself took almost 2 months. She started with 10-12 original ideas, then he’d give feedback on what worked and what didn’t. She would tweak the ideas then send them back for another round.
Now, it’s gone from an inspiration to his first product. Go buy one, and support a great idea, and get a good looking shirt.
Yes, you can also find Tahoe Libre on Facebook.