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Two Frederick High School graduates' clothing line has grossed more than $35,000 in sales one year after starting the online business.
Peter McDermott and Austin Braswell, both 21, started a
, which now has more than 38,000 followers. Using that list of contacts as a customer base, the partners created
, which emphasizes Maryland pride.
Marylanders have a strong sense of state pride, McDermott said, and people love to show where they are from. Clothing is a perfect way to do that.
McDermott credits his partner's creativity for the clothing designs.
"Austin has always been a talented artist and had created some cool Maryland clothing ideas in the past," McDermott said. "So once we started getting all these followers on Twitter, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to advertise some of his clothing ideas to that audience to see if they would be interested."
The first items sold were tank tops made available for pre-order. The partners used upfront money to get the tank tops printed. The first few orders were released under their Twitter name, (at)marylandprobz, "but once we saw how much success we were having, we decided to start the Free State Clothing company," McDermott said.
The company's success so far can be attributed to Braswell's talent, McDermott said.
"I still give Austin all of the credit for our success," McDermott said. "We wouldn't be going anywhere without his creative designing ability."
Many pride clothing companies tend to just throw the Maryland flag on everything they design, Braswell said, "but we really try to put a lot of thought into our designs and try to make sure we're not that run-of-the-mill Maryland pride clothing company."
The business partners have sold their "Maryland Pride" apparel to Mrs. Maryland, the Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders, and Maryland native and rapper Astronautalis.
The company's "Love" design, printed on T-shirts, crew neck sweatshirts and hoodies, is probably the most popular, Braswell said. "People seem to like that one a lot."
Small local businesses such as Pitcrew inspire the entrepreneurs, McDermott said, because of the success they've had while still producing original and creative products.
Free State clothing products are printed by a custom printing clothing company in Virginia. Braswell is studying graphic design at Frederick Community College. He plans to transfer to Towson University in the fall. McDermott is majoring in business management at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.
One of their favorite quotes is from the movie "Joe Dirt:" "Life's a garden. Dig it."
"It's hard to believe all we've done already," McDermott said, "and this is only the end of our first year running the business. I know that our sales will only increase every year.
"Maryland pride isn't going anywhere, and Austin continues to amaze me day after day with the creative ideas he is able to come up with."
The business partners are in the process of re-stocking their online store, but everyone can follow them on Twitter
, or like their
for news about upcoming products and releases, or check out the online store at