Three St. Thomas students are trying to revamp the UGG boot with a new idea.
Sophomores Carson Tomsche, Sam Ziegler and Kirby Parsons started Summit Avenue Apparel and created their first product, Summit Boot Straps, designed for women’s UGG boots.
“When we walk around campus, we see a lot of UGG boots that are just brown, black or gray,” Tomsche said. “What we wanted to do was to be able to provide ladies with the option to spice up their UGGs and to stand out in the crowd.”
Tomsche, Ziegler and Parsons are enrolled in a 200-level entrepreneurship course, where they were assigned to make a product from scratch they could sell.
Jay Ebben, the entrepreneurship class instructor, created the assignment with his colleague Alec Johnson.
“The whole idea of this assignment is to get students to go out and understand what they would like to do and the challenges that goes along with starting a business,” Ebben said. “Their goal this semester is to build a brand that they can continue to build after the end of the semester and to make some money during the semester. It’s more challenging than it sounds.”
The trio thought of Summit Boot Straps about two months ago.
“We first researched the idea and asked around to see if people would be interested in the product,” Ziegler said. “Then we had to go find someone to make it.”
Sophomore Erica Ticknor bought the first pair of boot straps the trio sold last weekend.
“I like wearing them because I like the uniqueness of them,” Ticknor said. “They’re really simple to just strap them onto some UGGs and other leather boots.”
The Summit Boot Straps cost $5 to manufacture, but with the cost of material, the website and the logo, they sell for $15 each pair.
“We really tried to keep them at as low of a cost as possible,” Tomsche said.
To keep things local, the students decided to purchase the fabric from a St. Paul store, Treadle Yard Goods.
“We don’t want to outsource or anything to China,” Parsons said. “We think it’s a cool addition to have them locally made. It helps us to build our brand.”
Ann Berget of northeast Minneapolis makes the boot straps at her home. She is a retired seamstress and said she is excited about the opportunity to continue her career while helping the students with their product.
The Summit Boot Straps are one of a few products the new company has to offer. Summit Avenue Apparell has also designed T-shirts, tank tops, sweatshirts and hats with their logo on each item. Because the boot straps are a seasonal product, the company is looking to expand its merchandise.
“There was a lot of interest with our logo,” Parsons said. “People liked the overall design of it and were coming to us and asking if we are going to make items with the logo on it. We’re going to start doing that to meet the demand.”
Senior Breanna Viere said she would be tempted to buy the boot straps, depending on the price.
“Everyone has UGG boots so it would be nice to stand apart, even if it’s just slightly,” Viere said.
The students are eager to continue their business after their entrepreneurship class is finished.
“It’s fun to get our hands dirty and kind of emerse yourself in what you’re going to ultimately be doing with your college major,” Parsons said.
Anne Becken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.