I sound like a broken record, but thank you, thank you, thank you. This week marks our 5th Birthday and with the busy of the world at an all-time high, finding a moment of silence to write this and express my feelings for you all is hard, but necessary.
Last summer I got married to my beautiful wife Noelle, but Portland Gear was my first true love. It’s how I grew up, learned about business, friendship, hard work, community, trust, support, loyalty, and myself.
As a local kid, I was shaped by the likes of Nike, the University of Oregon, and the other great apparel and lifestyle brands in the area. I knew I wanted to be in the industry one day, it made me excited. With hopes of joining the Swoosh in Beaverton, something else came along during my time at UO and I began screen printing shirts, selling them to friends in the dorms, and learning the business of a t-shirt. I changed majors and went all-in on design and business, knowing I had something to share with the world but just not knowing what that was.
Graduating in 2012 I moved back home with the family and began working on designing and selling screen printing to local businesses and brands. In doing so my clientele grew, and more and more brands were wanting their product “Made in Portland.” In 2013 I saw this trend begin to grow and I locked down @portland on Instagram as a way to grow a community of people who shared my passion and also build a platform to promote these brands I was helping.
I began hosting Instagram meetups for the local photo and design community which quickly grew into a larger following and a much larger platform than I had ever expected. In 2014 all my worlds collide - a passion for Portland, a love for screen printing and brands, a desire to wear my Portland pride and not being able to find anything that fit my style, and a background in design.
On Black Friday 2014 I launched Portland Gear (a name I thought would encapsulate more than just t-shirts if one day people wanted hats) and I launched a now-iconic P logo with the state of Oregon on the inside of the P. In the first day with just 2 posts on the @portland page it did $5,000 in sales!
Since then we’ve taken an old 1973 VW bus (inspired by the original Nike bus that they’d sell shoes out of) and done hundreds of pop-ups around town, opened a retail store by Providence park, done collabs with the Blazers, Thorns, Breakside, Water ave coffee, Doernbecher, have had our gear on star athletes, and shipped product to every state and 60+ countries.
Want to know how all of that happens? A team, and here at Portland Gear that’s what this Small Business Sat and our 5th birthday is all about. From Eli, who’s my best college friend and first wheeled carts down to Saturday Market with me, Mack, a high school buddy who’d always talk business with me and jump into the next crazy idea, to Zack, who started as an 18 year old and is now helping me manage the brand, Kenzie who started in our summer internship “Brand Camp” and is now doing all our community work, Sean, who’d come and perform magic tricks at my meetups in 2013 (when he was 16) who now does all our amazing video content, Jay, our newest hire and first-ever graphic designer, to the handful of awesome seasonal workers who help in the store and at events, we have a really small team! Everything you’ve ever seen from us has come from just a handful of skilled, hungry, dedicated people.
When you support local and Portland Gear, know these are the people and dreams you’re supporting. In the coming years, we hope to only get better, make more unique and fun Portland apparel, create and host innovative events that celebrate the community, and invest and be part of the next group of Portland businesses helping to make this the special place we all know and love.
Cheers to our first 5 years, a sincere thank you, and we’re looking forward to the next 50!
- Marcus Harvey