Marketplace: Motherlode peddles Park City nostalgia
August 12, 2016
Alex Lowe and Jesse Santaularia were on a trip to Big Sky Resort in Montana when they stumbled into a T-shirt shop that changed everything.
The T-shirts were unlike the ones carried by typical souvenir shops one can find in any resort town, they said. They were custom-designed and unique and represented the flavor of the town in a way that struck both of them.
"We were like, 'Oh my God, this is so awesome. Why doesn't Park City have something like this?'" Santaularia said. "It's original designs, original artwork, high-quality shirts. It was such an obvious idea for us because we'd both wanted to start our own business. It just clicked."
Though neither Santaularia nor Lowe had any experience in apparel design, they were inspired. Last fall, they signed the lease on a storefront at 710 Main St. In February, they opened Motherlode Park City, a T-shirt and screen printing shop that also creates custom designs for patrons and can print their shirts right in front of them.
In many ways, Motherlode Park City is an ode to the town. Neither Santaularia and Lowe are native Parkites, but they have made Park City home because they see it as "such a gem of a town in so many ways." The shop aims to encapsulate what it is that makes the town special and unique.
"I moved here not knowing how to ski," she said. "I was a beach girl from Florida, and I didn't really anticipate how much I'd love the mountains and Park City. But I just do. I love the community. I love that it's such a small-town feel but with big-town amenities. It makes me happy."
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They're hoping patrons feel similarly about Park City. Eventually, they hope to expand their offerings from custom T-shirts — which they describe as vintage mountain-themed and rustic — to things such as wooden postcards, leather wallets, engraved glass and custom flasks — anything unique that can represent what Park City is all about.
"Obviously there are a lot of tourists that come in, and I want to give them something that's, like, I call it original Park City nostalgia," Santaularia said. "We want to give people something that's made here and that they're going to remember in 10 years. They're going to be like, 'Oh, I got this cool engraved wooden cup,' or whatever it might be that we make. It's just souvenirs, but it's something that was created here and made here."
In addition to the T-shirts lining the shelves and racks, patrons can design their own shirts. Motherlode has a number of designs that can be customized — for instance, children can use crayons to color in patterns — and customers can also bring in photos that can be scanned into a computer, then printed on shirts. Once customers settle on a design, the shirts can be printed in about 15 minutes.
"Really, we can put anything on them," Lowe said, adding that the shop plans to partner with the Kimball Art Center this fall for screen printing workshops to give patrons a behind-the-scenes look at the art of making T-shirts.
Despite having no experience in the apparel industry, both Lowe and Santaularia say they have found a calling. Lowe previously worked in marketing and corporate strategy and Santaularia went to law school. Somehow, though, running a small T-shirt shop in Park City has quickly become a passion.
"I feel like all of my efforts are directed to something, like, meaningful, rather than just doing whatever someone else wanted me to do just so I can survive," Santaularia said. "I never thought when I was 12 years old that I would be making T-shirts and screen printing and stuff, but now that I am, I'm like, 'This is pretty cool.' I really enjoy doing it."
Motherlode Park City
710 Main St.
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