Everyone has heard of craft soda, craft ice cream and, of course, craft beer, but have you heard of craft clothing? Well, Richmond businessmen Josh Barrett and Dylan Kelley hope you will soon.
The pair recently celebrated a launch party for their new line of craft T-shirts at Sugarboo & Co. in Lexington.
While creating a clothing line may seem like an unlikely step for Barrett, a real estate agent, and Kelley, an accountant, the business venture stemmed from a need.
Last fall, the friends were searching for the perfect T-shirts to wear during football season. Barrett said they wanted to find something that showed pride in their Kentucky home, but nothing fitting could be found.
Wanting more than a sports team logo, or the stamp of Kentucky on the T-shirt’s chest, Barrett said he jokingly mentioned, “We should create our own,” to Kelley.
Kelley took Barrett up on the idea and, less than a year later, the brand — dubbed Bluegrass Brothers — has come to fruition.
“When Americans can’t find what we desire, we make it,” said Barrett.
Pulling from each man’s strength, Kelley created a business plan; Barrett a logo and name; and both funded the venture.
“I thought it was funny, even though we aren’t actually brothers, we are very close friends who grew up together in Richmond,” Barrett said of the company name.
Working with a graphic designer, the men set about creating a brand that represents all things “uniquely Kentucky.”
“I want to boast about my home state,” Barrett said, noting themes of bourbon barrels, beautiful countryside and jockey silks. “That’s what Kentucky is to me.”
With Barrett handling sales and Kelley the business aspect, the company has grown quickly in a year’s time.
Along with Sugarboo & Co., the shirts are sold at Cuff to Collar in Richmond, and soon will be sold on the newly launching BluegrassBrothers.com. Barrett said he hopes the shirts will also be available at many local and regional boutiques in the near future.
Just as special bourbons can be bought in batches, so too will Bluegrass Brothers’ tees.
Barrett said there would be a fall batch, winter batch, spring, summer and so on, with certain batches only available at specific times. The intent is to eventually retire some designs, not to drive the price up, but to maintain a custom, craft feel, Barrett said.
The real estate agent turned clothing designer said he hopes the shirts inspire those living in Kentucky, or those away and missing home, regardless of their Commonwealth experience.
The company’s mission statement, encompassing almost a wish for the company’s future and the brand’s goal, says a Bluegrass Brothers shirt can be familiar whether “from the mountains of Harlan, the flat lands of Fancy Farm, the bright lights of Louisville, or the Horse Capital of the World.”
For more information, visit the Bluegrass Brothers Facebook page.
Reach Critley King at 624-6623; follow her on Twitter @critleyking.