Nearly six years ago, Sarah Schroeder decided to go out of her comfort zone and whip up a few pieces of Minnesota-branded apparel. She’d been to a local concert in Duluth, Minn. and noticed the abundance of lower-quality T-shirts branded with Minnesota designs, plus a lack of apparel for women. That’s when she wondered if she could do better—if she could create an eco-friendly, high-quality Minnesota clothing line for both men, women, children and pets. So, she took a chance and started designing her own line, which she later named Minnesota Made.
“That summer I started messing around with a few designs,” Schroeder says. “And that Christmas I signed up for a really small event and decided to make a handful of T-shirts. I was floored at how many we sold.”
It’s safe to say that the event was a success. Minnesota Made items were later offered at Flaunt Accessories in Maple Grove. Schroeder’s first brick-and-mortar studio opened in 2016 and she recently relocated her retail shop to downtown Stillwater this past spring. From T-shirts to crewnecks (a bestseller, no matter the season), coffee mugs to pet bandanas, Minnesota Made has just about everything.
All of the products are sustainably made from companies that are Worldwide Responsibly Accredited Production (Wrap) certified, meaning the items have come from safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturers, as Schroeder explains. She’s made it a point to know just exactly where all her items come from.
“The cotton comes from Texas ... and it’s made into the fabric in Miami,” Schroeder says. “Finally, it’s sent down to the Dominican Republic to be made into a garment.”
To finish up the apparel many of the non-apparel items are sourced from local businesses. Most of these companies are known to Schroeder through a personal connection with a friend’s business. For example, Stillwater Soy Candle Company offers hand-poured soy candles with essential oils. Fika Coffee, a coffee roaster based out of Lutsen, Minn., where Schroeder skis in winter, offers coffee by the pound. You can also snag a leather patch hat from Harmonic Goods, a Duluth-based company.
“These are some of my favorite things,” Schroeder says. “And it’s great to be able to share these things with people.”
As for Schroeder’s designs, she creates each one, and each has a story behind it. For example, the “Minnesota Horizon” tee features a hand-traced horizon line of the St. Croix River and Lake Superior, two important things to her. And one of her newest lines, “Camp Minnesota,” incorporates her love of camping as well as the importance of responsibly made style. It includes the big dipper hidden into the tee’s design. Moreover, flip up the bottom of each tee and onesie, and you’ll find a hidden quote intended to spark a little joy in your day.
“[The extra elements] also make it that much more important for so many people,” she says. “And it means something more, too.”
From sustainable products to hidden quotes, Schroeder ensures each piece is more special than the next. She also hopes to educate people on the importance of sustainably made fashion as well as recycling and reusing.
“It’s really important for us to be able to share this story with people,” Schroeder says. “I’m always trying to make the extra step, and that ties into the reason why I started doing this.”
Find Minnesota Made at local St. Croix Valley events this fall.