Garett Croft Stenson '04 sits in his north Portland bungalow among boxes stacked full of wallets, tape, stickers, and promotional posters, all ready to be mailed to retailers.
The house serves as home to Stenson and his new company, db clay, which offers fashion-forward wallets made from a patent-pending design.
"A wallet is a great market to be in," says Stenson, 26. "Everyone wears T-shirts, everybody wears blue jeans, and everyone carries a wallet. Everything else is optional."
Wallets are not a new business for Stenson. He paid for his Portland State tuition with ductbill, a business that sold hand-made duct tape wallets-more than 30,000-at Portland's Saturday Market, in boutiques, and on the Web. Db clay combines that experience with a new upscale vision.
The company's flexible, tight-knit staff of four full-time employees create multiple high-end lines, including wallets featuring photographs, another line of everyday recycled objects, and a limited edition sketchbook series of original art. And today the wallets are made from gaffer tape, a waterproof cloth tape, and nylon stitching. The unique creations retail for between $40 and $85.
Stenson's dream company encompasses more than just wallets. He is interested in an online community using his Web site for people to browse his products, communicate, and trade ideas about fashion, culture, and art. He also plans to expand db clay into a broader product line of clutch purses and luggage, and is courting investors to help grow the company and offer advice.
Stenson's business degree is coming in handy as he leaves the cutting table and concentrates on the marketing end of the business.
"I realize this is gonna take hard work, and this will be a long road," says Stenson. "But I truly want to be a household name for personal accessories. The decisions we're making now are toward a respected, timeless label." –Zach Elliott Kronser