The Great Lakes Co. & Sota Clothing Co. Query Letter

Many companies have taken inspiration from the Minnesota outdoors and have capitalized off of it. Companies such as: The Great Lakes Co. and Sota Clothing Co. have both used the Minnesota outdoors, and more specifically, northern Minnesota in order to create a brand that others will relate to and feel inspired from. The Great Lakes Co. was founded and created by two men: Spencer Barrett and David Burke. They were inspired by their cabins and the lake life ideals that accompany that. Spencer Johnson, creator and founder of Sota Clothing Co., created the logo for his company during a class, here, at The University of Minnesota Duluth; he was inspired from the North Shore and the beauty that lies along Highway 61.

This article will not be a promotional piece about fun, outdoor companies, instead, I will be digging deeper into what makes these companies connect with their brands and what are they doing to stay true to what they are representing. I have talked with Spencer Barrett, as well as, Spencer Johnson, to discuss their companies, what inspired them to start an outdoor clothing company, and more in-depth questions, as well.

Many outdoor clothing companies often use the environment to gain consumers but never actually “give back” in terms of acknowledging that their success is partly related to the outdoors and the environment. I will be looking at whether either of these companies donate to outdoor organizations, use environmentally friendly products, and so on. Barrett told me how they donate a portion of their proceeds to a lake conservation and preservation organization. He also gave me the name of the organization they donate to; I intend on speaking with this organization to learn more about what they do, what companies donate to them, and how much money The Great Lakes Co donates, as well.

I would also like to talk with a business professor, and more specifically a marketing professor, here at UMD to discuss how and why Minnesota’s North Shore is such a marketable phenome; I would also like to look at how many brands/clothing companies are profiting off of Minnesota’s outdoors, currently. Another person at school that I would like to talk with is: Professor Johnson; it was in his Senior Graphic Design II course that Spencer Johnson created his logo for Sota Clothing Co. Professor Johnson could lend another perspective to the story of how Spencer Johnson first got started.

In terms of the timeline, I will be talking with, roughly, three to five sources beyond Spencer Barrett and Spencer Johnson. My goal is to have all my interviews completed within the next two weeks. I plan on having a draft of the story ready to go by March 25th and having a finished copy of the story ready to be published by April 20th.

The idea of this article is to connect with students and staff at UMD, as well as, residents of Duluth and explain to them how people are being inspired, a great deal, by Minnesota’s outdoor environment; and discuss how these people are creating brands that surround this culture and how they are profiting off of it. The article will go more in-depth to discuss and compare how these two clothing companies got inspired to create brands inspired by the outdoors; and also go into detail in terms of how dedicated they are to the outdoors and whether or not they make an effort to serve or sustain the environment. I hope to publish this on Lake Voice News, and possibly, Perfect Duluth Day, as well.