Twin Cities Life Inspires Local Graphic Tee Company

November 11, 2013

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The Idea Peepshow has devoted dozens of blog posts to topics decidedly Twin Cities. We have waxed on the local sports franchises, raved about the food scene and gushed over the craft coffee and craft brew.

We Ponies quite like it here. This place fuels our creativity, sparks our curiosity, keeps us open to possibility and often leaves our bellies full.

(Seriously, have you tried a Jucy Lucy with a local pale ale? It is the purpose of life.)

Humble as we Twin Citizens may be, we love to wear our local pride on our sleeve, but more are wearing that pride on their chest thanks to a new graphic tee company called MPLS / STP Clothing Co. The company is based online and a portion of each sale benefits its non-profit partner, Minnesota Computers for Schools, a Minnesota-based non-profit that provides technology access for lifelong learning. You know, because Minnesota nice.

Another thing about we Minnesotans: we love to say, “That’s interesting,” when introduced to something new or different. But when I first learned about MPLS / STP Clothing Co. and its excellent Minnesota-centric blog, I had to know more. Specifically, what aspects of our local flavor make for a good graphic tee? And does actively searching for local inspiration change or possibly improve the way one interacts with his/her community?

For these questions and more, I emailed co-founder Clint McMahon, who along with his girlfriend/co-founder runs MPLS / STP Clothing Co. from their Warehouse District apartment.

minnesota_buritto_artwork_1280_1600__41861.1333838059.490.588Where did the idea for MPLS / STP Clothing Co. come from?
The idea for MPLS/ STP Clothing Co. came while my girlfriend, Katie [Olson], and I were living in New York during the summer of 2011. We were talking with a friend about how there were no well-done Minneapolis/St. Paul t-shirts that represented the life and culture of Minnesota. The idea of creating the Minnesota-based company really came to life when a friend suggested creating a t-shirt that said “Minnesota Burrito” with an image of a tater tot hot dish. From there, we came up with our first line of Minnesota tees.

After the success of our first line we decided that we were ready to move back home to Minnesota. Our goal is to someday have a brick-and-mortar store.

What is your approach to coming up with new t-shirt designs? Is it, “Hey, this is something that makes me proud to live in the Twin Cities?” Or is it, “This is something the Twins Cities is known for — let’s put a spin on it?”
It’s a combination of those two. A lot of times an idea will just strike one of us and we’ll say, “Hey, this would make awesome t-shirt.”  We’ve used both Minnesota icons (Paul and Babe) and personal experiences in Minnesota as ideas for shirts.

Since MPLS / STP Clothing Co. started, do you feel you’ve become more sensitive to local flavor?
Definitely. Since we started making t-shirts I’ve begun paying more attention to the things that make Minnesota such a unique place to live. Our inspiration is all around us.

nordic_walleye_design__28750.1349226827.490.588How has this company impacted the way you perceive the Twin Cities?
My perception of the Twin Cities has changed as well. I think moving back home after being gone for a while has helped me see that state and culture with a different perspective. I see the Twin Cities as such a dynamic place with a great culture. One of the big things we try to do with MPLS / STP Clothing Co. is create a community of people who all love the Twin Cities as much as we do. We really try to engage people with our Facebook page, Twitter feed and Instagram photos.

Are there any plans to stray outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul proper for, say, Edina-, Eden Prairie- or Eagan-inspired designs?
We’ve got a few t-shirt ideas in mind for a few suburbs… Edina especially.

In June, Travel + Leisure listed the Twin Cities No. 4 on its list of the snobbiest cities in the U.S.A. Too high? Too low? About right?
I don’t believe any of these lists. I really feel like the people who are putting them together are throwing darts at a map. People are the same all over the world. I’d love it if we all could stop comparing ourselves against the rest of the country and forget about arbitrary lists that nobody cares about and just embrace being awesome.

A portion of each MPLS / STP Clothing Co. purchase is donated to Minnesota Computers for Schools. How did you select this local charity?
Years ago, Katie was on the board of directors for this organization and over the years she has stayed involved in one way or another. We both really wanted to select an organization that served at-risk kids and since this organization does that so well with technology [Clint’s area of expertise] it seemed like a perfect fit.