Roughly this time last year Superior Goods, a premium American-made line birthed from Sota Clothing, was breaking it’s way into the public. For most its introduction came through our kickstarter campaign, which was our way to fund the first product of the line: the North Star hoodie.
Having design elements inspired by Minnesota winters, this hoodie was purposed for much more then just special occasions. Whether it was down hill skiing or shoveling the driveway, we wanted the North Star Hoodie to be versatile in many conditions. Making it the go-to grab from the coat rack as you walked out the door.
Early January of 2016, the kickstarter video was released. On average only 10% of kickstarter campaigns are successful. We hadn’t the slightest idea how we would fair. Between fabric, working with our technical designer Jeanna Palkowitsch, and hiring sewers, the amount we needed to start breathing life into this project was set at $30,000. Kickstarter operates in an all-or-nothing fashion; if the goal was not reached in its entirety the donors would receive their full donation back, leaving us at square one.
In just eight days our goal was reached, it was clear that there were plenty of like-minded people who also wanted to see this project come to fruition. Each donation came with some kind of reward. The average donation of $85, called the early bird special, was rewarded with a North Star Hoodie from the very first batch. The largest donation was set for $1,000. This amount was rewarded with a North Star Hoodie as well as a personal lifestyle photo shoot with Spencer. Only three donors fell into this category, one of which was our mother.
Our original plan for production was to contract the work out to the sewers at the women’s prison in Shakopee, MN. It wasn’t until the campaign was completed that the women’s prison realized how technical the hoodie would be, and advised us to seek production elsewhere.
The funds were raised, the fabric had been ordered, but our sewers were yet to be found. Spencer received a couple contacts for local sewers from our hat guy, Roddy, and Lauren followed up on the leads. One of which got us in contact with Kathy and Houen Seng, both tailors out of Monticello, MN.
In time, we learned that Kathy and Houen first learned to sew in elementary school in Cambodia. As teenagers Kathy and Hoeun were forced to flee Cambodia to a Thai refugee camp because of the war. After spending two years in the camp, Kathy and Hoeun married before heading to the U.S., where they eventually honed the skills they first learned in grade school and earned their living as tailors here in the states.
After Lauren explained the concept behind the North Star Hoodie and all that it involved, the Seng’s agreed to partner with us in its production. They worked closely with the patterns our designers made to establish each step involved in production. Seng built a 8x15’ table to start in on the various cuts that would need to be made. Each step of production provided challenges of its own. Extensive conversations between Spencer, Lauren, Jeanna, and Rebecca Radduck, one of our consultants, were had over aspects of a hoodie that the average consumer might take for granted; things like zipper sizes, the fit of the thumbhole along the wrist, and how to tweak the cuts for the hood so that one didn’t look like a knight heading into battle. The Seng’s produced several prototypes in each size before the final product was achieved, each time being analyzed for adjustments by our team. The early birds who so generously supported us back in February would receive their hoodie as their size was completed, between August to October of 2016.
Spencer and I went to the shop this winter to get more familiar with the production process. We saw the table Hoeun built to cut the fabric, the sewing machine he uses to topstitch, and the machine across from him Kathy uses to surge each piece of the garment together. Since the final version of the hoodie was established, the Seng’s have produced over 900 North Star Hoodies for this past winter season.
Having come from Sota clothing, Superior Goods has made it a point to design each garment with one of the four seasons in mind. We hope Superior Goods will inspire both the avid outdoorsmen and those reluctantly on the sidelines to take their next step into greater adventures. By providing them with clothes that they are proud to wear because of it’s production, style, and functionality.
Superior Goods has since expanded to include the Split Rock Henley, Two Harbors Puffer Vest, and a line of finely designed graphic tees by 10,000 Designs.