CMU student runs own lifestyle attire brand from his Pinconning home

Kicking around the college dorm with roommates, spitballing thoughts for an organization, transforming it into a triumph.

It might seem like one of those entrepreneur inception stories straight out of Hollywood, yet that is exactly what Derek LaBean is endeavoring to do.

At only 21 years of age, Pinconning’s LaBean is the proprietor of Smoky Ridge Outfitters, his brand of lifestyle wear, which incorporates everything from beanies to hoodies to jogging pants to t-shirts.

Inspired by Mike Smith’s fitness and clothing business, yet the much by his social media presence, LaBean thought up his fashion line from his room in Campbell Hall on the campus of Central Michigan University. Drumming up approaches to bring in his cash while affecting, Smoky Ridge was it.

LaBean, presently a junior at CMU majoring in marketing with a concentration in professional sales, started to concoct designs in late 2018. He began making online sales through his website within less than a year. In August 2019, Karry Osier of More of Michigan asked LaBean to come to be a seller at his market. That was the first physical presence of LaBean’s creation.

“Success has been great and steady, a lot better than I anticipated. I believe I just pushed and pushed and pushed,” he says.

“It’s very fortunate to be what it is right now. And I know it’s very difficult to get out of the first growth stage.”

As of not long ago, LaBean has done everything all alone, concocting designs and selecting fabrics and running an eager social media campaign. He runs inventory from the basement of his Pinconning home, satisfying e-commerce orders and stocking the More of Michigan space.

It’s that push he refers to that defines the brand. Smoky represents adversity. Ridge represents battling through it and remaining on the pinnacle.

“I’m just like anyone. I’ve struggled at times,” says LaBean.

“Smoky Ridge is about staying mentally strong.”

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