Volunteer Traditions offers a wide range of state themed products from ties and coozies to t-shirts, hats and belts; and they're adding more all the time!
The products take inspiration from the shape, flags, and symbols of each state they have.
The bowties include symbols that are unique to each state.
Their Georgia flag belt is embrodiered and classic!
Mason, one of the founders and visionaries behind the company was kind enough to help me better understand how they got started and what inspires him. Check out his answers to my questions below:
When did you first decide to start your company?
A friend and I were in class one day and saw one too many South Carolina products and thought "we need to make some great designs for other states"...so we started with Tennessee. We had some cool things come together as we started with belts and expanded from there.
What is your inspiration?
We try to keep traditional concepts with the designs...we don't want to make products just to make them. We try to take each state and make sure it's got its own feel...some do better than others.
Where did you first develop your style?
I have a pretty laid back style, partly because in starting a business you don't have tons of money to spend on keeping up. I think one of the keys to style is wearing clothing that fits YOU well...you can wear nice brands and still look like a goon if it doesn’t fit well. I’ve been lucky/unlucky in that I haven't really grown since 8th grade so I've been able to find some great fitting pieces to my wardrobe over the years.
What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
I hope they convey a pride in where someone is from. It's been cool to hear from people who get excited about the brand because they have always wanted to let people know they are proud to be from "insert state"...I think that's huge when guys/gals go off to college out of state...so it's no coincidence that college students are a big market for our company.
What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
The hardest part of the business, as with most things, the hardest part is the best part. It's hard to explain to people what I do on a daily basis...and it's always a challenge when things are tough, as I can't really complain about my boss.
I've been blessed with a great community of friends and family that have been supportive...and made it clear they will be around regardless of business success...which is great for perspective of what really matters.
What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
We'd love to add a variety of things in the future...we're working on ties/bows for all states...beyond that we've looked at more made in the US products that may expand the brand/designs beyond just "state" products. We would love to expand states, but to be honest we're much more focused on expanding the breadth of the line within the states as I don't want to just have a couple of random products for each place but build a base for each, which is much more of a line than hodgepodge of halfway decent products that fit.
How would you define today's 'Preppy' and how do you think it compare to the preppy past decades?
I think most people look at preppy of the past to include traditional WASP Ivy League as they desire to be part of that lifestyle...the George Bush/JFK who wears short shorts and a crew sweatshirt on a sail boat, but with increased exposure to the WASP styles, I believe more individuals are pulling in pieces of "preppy" styles which has lead to some good things and bad things. There’s always people who try too hard and there's always people who do it well, those things will never change. More brands producing pastels makes as many bad looks as it does good looks ha!
With our products...I hope we don't go over the top. I love that Governors sport our caps and belts when they make trips to Iraq and want to show where they are from look classy. I'd be happy to see George Bush sporting a belt with short shorts and a sweatshirt on a sail boat in Maine, but I'd be just as excited or more to see him riding around the ranch in Texas sporting a cap with the nice broken-in look.
Is there anything else you’d like to include or mention?
We try to do our best to make products in the US when possible - ties, belts, etc. We have people ask if things are American made, almost as an attack...I could tell them 9 out of 10 things are US and they will still get Toby Keith angry. Sometimes the companies we've found that make the best fitting products are overseas and as a small company we don't have the leverage to get someone local to work with us...as chic as it would be.
I believe many brands portray a certain image and sometimes it just doesn't work with the products they are making - We found a niche of producing products for people who are proud of where they are from "where state pride meets quality"...we're happy to help people with that niche of a product and do our best to make sure the products match the positive feelings the individual has for his/her state.
What to learn more about Volunteer Traditions? Check them out here:
And as always, if you have any companies you think I should check out and feature on my blog. Please let me know!