When Shamus McNutt, Mark Grubbs and Ben Thomson graduated with engineering degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, they decided engineering wasn’t what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives.
So together, they pooled $800, made 80 shirts and started clothing brand Belong Designs. Three years later, they’ve just opened their first retail storefront in a 1,500-square-foot building at 3358 Larimer St. in RiNo.
Belong Designs opened their new showroom on July 15. The company invested about $18,000 in turning the building into a retail clothing store. Belong Designs is also applying for a liquor license with plans to sell beer and coffee to shoppers while they browse the company’s t-shirts, shorts, sweats, hats and other products.
McNutt hopes the small store will do about $600 in business per day, he said.
Belong Designs, which makes clothes geared toward amateur adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, started selling shirts online in 2013. McNutt said sales hit $96,000 in Belong’s first year in business. The company did about $200,000 in sales last year, McNutt said.
Each member of the company’s founding partners takes care of a different portion of the business. Thompson is in charge of product engineering and sales, McNutt is the company’s executive director and Grubbs creates the clothing designs for each product line.
The three have not completely cast aside their engineering education. McNutt said they worked 9-to-5 jobs for a construction company before going into Belong Designs fulltime earlier this year.
“The first dream of ours was to quit our day jobs,” McNutt said. “Our second dream was starting a shop and luckily we have hurdled that in a matter of six months.”
The crew also put their engineering degrees to use by coming up with their own blend of cotton, polyester and rayon blend of fabric that McNutt said is soft, durable and moves well.
McNutt said that constant improvements to quality in addition to an engaged audience will contribute to continued growth.
“We are going to be up there with the big dogs when we are the little fish in the sea,” McNutt said. “One of the best ways to grow is if your mission and your quality are better, you’re going to make your way eventually.”