I was born and raised in Minnesota, but Arizona is a beautiful state and I'm blessed to call it my second home. The natural beauty is astounding, and the culture and variety of people makes this a vibrant place to live.
The guys behind State Forty Eight share the sentiment. In fact, the state of Arizona is the inspiration for their line of t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and more. Michael Spangenberg (Sales & Marketing), Stephen Polando (Operations & Production), and Nicholas Polando (Graphic Artist and Designer) work together to share their love of Arizona through their clothing line. I was fortunate enough to chat with Michael about all things State Forty Eight.
How and when did you three decide to start a clothing brand?
Growing up, the fashion side of things was always a passion of mine. Stephen and I grew up together, since elementary school. Three years ago, we really started thinking about names, ideas and concepts. He thought of the name one day after thinking about a ton of different names and ideas. Then we brought his brother into the mix and he is the graphic designer of the bunch, so he created the logo and we fell in love with it.
Did you always know you wanted to do this?
I personally always wanted a clothing line. Being from here and being a diehard spots fan, I know that Arizona has so many transplants. It's rare to be born and raised here. Going to Cardinals games, half of the stadium is full of the opposing team. We don't really have a loyal fanbase type of thing, nor do we have any type of brand that represents Arizona.
What is the inspiration for State Forty Eight?
Would you ever open your own physical store?
That is definitely a goal of ours. We are trying to be smart about when we do stuff like that.
How do you three work together?
Stephen is the operations guy who does a lot of the printing, delivering and handling the relationships with the stores. I love to go to different networking events, and it's easy to sell your brand when you love it. Nick is a really artistic guy and does things behind the scenes. You kind of need these different personalities.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Time. We are still not doing it full-time yet, the main challenge is all three of us wanting to do it full time and take it to the next level but being smart about it. We are three totally different styles and personalities, and sometimes we disagree. We think in different ways, and it helps us reach different demographics. We are all like brothers, so it's healthy to argue sometimes.
How was your experience in Phoenix Fashion Week 2014?
The year before (2013), I came across it and thought oh man, this is perfect. Even then I didn't think there was an opportunity for us to compete, but just going there and seeing it all happen, I was like this is something we really have to get involved with. When you think about fashion week, you think suits and dresses, and we are just a t-shirt brand. But they are most focused on really helping you become a sustainable business, and they really encouraged us. We just went from there- we applied and got accepted. We learned so much and it really opened our eyes to the whole fashion scene.
What is your long-term vision and goals for State Forty Eight?
Definitely have our own boutique. We want to be that well-known brand, like -I Love NY- but in Arizona. We want to make our long term goals come to life and take it to another level, with a duplicate business like State Twenty Eight.
What do you think of the Phoenix/Arizona fashion scene?
Being involved with Phoenix Fashion Week this past year really opened our eyes to what the fashion of Arizona is all about. There are amazing styles because Arizona is kind of a melting pot-you get so many different styles from Arizona, California, Midwest, New York-you get different trends and ideas that way.
What has been the best part of this whole experience?
Going out and driving down the street you will see a person wearing your shirt or decal and you have no idea who it is. Also, seeing the gradual increase in sales every month. It-s been really rewarding and humbling, and we just want to continue to work hard to make it all happen.
By: Rachael Bouley