You’ve probably seen Sota Clothing’s logo out and about, whether you’ve realized it or not. The oars, state silhouette and number 32, signifying Minnesota’s place as the 32nd state of the U.S., are now a well-known staple in Minn. clothing.
Founder Spencer Johnson started the company in 2011 in a graphic design class at the University of Minnesota Duluth. “We needed to create a business and brand and develop it,” Johnson says. “I was thinking there weren’t any Minnesota T-shirt companies with graphics that were clean and simple.”
Now with seven years of business behind him, Johnson’s popular clothing brand, which until now has done most of its business online, is coming to St. Louis Park. Located in one of the city’s oldest buildings, when the space opened up it created the opportunity for Sota Clothing’s first brick-and-mortar location, something Johnson never anticipated for the brand.
The Sota Clothing crew tested the waters of obtaining a physical store by driving to, and selling at, the Minnesota Mobile Market and the Minnesota State Fair, gaining plenty of facetime with their customers, as well as introducing limited edition designs.
Now the storefront will become a permanent spot to experiment with new designs available only at the store.
“We’re really excited to see how people will react. We want to host more events in our space and draw and bring in more community,” says Johnson.
Joining Johnson at the new space will be his family, as always. With two sisters also working at the company, half of the Johnson family are employed by Sota Clothing. “My parents are retired and they come in when needed, like Black Friday,” Johnson says, also pointing out his brother’s truck outside.
Johnson is planning the move to St. Louis Park this summer. “The building kind of lent itself to have the character we’ve been looking for,” says Johnson. “St. Louis Park is a good middle. You’re so close to the cities and the city’s been such a great community and support.”
Another goal the company works toward is its Minnesota Nice Project, which raises money for a different cause each year. This year they’re focusing on the Minnesota Children’s Hospital, donating all profits from two hat designs.
“We wanted to figure out the right way for us to give back. For us, especially as a team, to figure out the who to donate to and work together on something bigger is important,” says Johnson.
As for why Johnson thinks Sota Clothing has struck a cord with locals, he believes it’s all thanks to state pride.
“Minnesota can be a little tough to live in with the winter we just had," he says. "It’s a badge of honor to wear that. Only a few people can say they’ve lived through that.”
6512 Walker Street, St. Louis Park