Outdoor nature and urban exploration pair up with hip styles by “No Stone Collective,” a new clothing line launched earlier this month by a crew of VCU students.
In May, marketing major Brian O’Loughlin and business management major Trevor Thacker, both seniors, saw the potential in creating an outdoor lifestyle clothing brand. Months later, they teamed up with junior communication arts major Sarah Butler to found No Stones Collective, a brand that targets young people with an outdoor mentality.
Starting a business can be an unforgiving task, especially when coupled with attending a university. Despite this, these three students saw the opportunity to delve into a relatively uncharted market in the city and decided to act.
“Richmond has a big outdoor-enthusiast culture, but there’s not really a camping brand or outdoors brand that has more everyday street-wear. It’s all really serious outdoor explorer clothing,” Thacker said. “We’re trying to redefine the way people think of the word ‘explore’ and exploring in general. You don’t have to be a professional to be an explorer, you just have to have that longing to be outside and a sense of adventure.”
A sense of adventure was enough to bring the three co-founders together. They said they appreciate the challenge with venturing not only in the outdoors, but in the vast wilderness of capitalism, and that has helped them to turn something as abstract as an idea into something as concrete as a business.
“The hardest part about doing something like this is to actually conceptualize what you’re trying to do,” O’Loughlin said. “It’s very easy to think about things on a broad scale but when you actually pitch your idea it has to be very clear-cut what you’re doing.”
While the busy schedule of a university student may seem like it would slow down the process of entrepreneurship — with classes, homework and working part-time — the group actually attributes much of the success they’ve had to the fact that they are college students living in the proximity of other young, like-minded people.
“To start up something like this it’s important to network and team up with as many people as possible, because trying to tackle something like this on your own can be intimidating,” Butler said.
Butler also said it can be difficult to balance the hours required for entrepreneurship with a hectic college schedule.
“It’s definitely been kind of a struggle to make the time and also try and have time for yourself to just relax,” Butler said. “There’s so many more things we could be doing if we weren’t in school, but school is also very important.”
While O’Loughlin and Thacker tackle the strategic aspect of enterprising, Butler acts as No Stone Collective’s art director. She creates the designs that differentiate the brand’s look from that of other companies that sell similar products.
For Butler, a designer for the Student Media Center, which houses the Commonwealth Times, inspiration for clothing can come from any aspect of nature. One of the graphics she designed on a T-shirt, inspired by Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken,” shows a trail that splits into two paths. Another displays a mountain range with the words “Elevate your standards” written underneath.
Butler says that many of her designs are inspired by tattoo imagery. They said this serves as a reflection of the city in which they originated, considering Richmond has been ranked as the third most tattooed city in America.
The group had the chance to display their inventory at their soft grand-opening on Friday, Nov. 6 at RVA First Fridays, with an array of T-shirts and die-cut stickers on display for attendants. They also recently launched their website, where visitors can purchase clothing and accessories.