Tahoe Gear: DT Couture
November 27, 2008
Though it’s probably not the first local business plan that’s been hatched while floating down the Truckee river on a lazy summer day, the story of Tahoe City clothing company DT Couture’s creation is nonetheless classic.
Founder Kelsen Thompson spawned his brainchild in 2000 after selling a tattered trucker hat emblazoned with the dumptruck logo of his father’s North Tahoe light hauling business straight off his head to a fashionista woman on another raft. She gave him $15 bucks which he promptly blew on rum and nachos at river’s end.
While buddies gobbled up Thompson’s profited libations in seconds, that shoreline sale planted the seed. His father’s business caps had always drawn him compliment, but here he was faced with an outright demand for them, sweaty brim and all.
Struck by the epiphany, Thompson decided to meet the demand for Dumptruck hats head on. He started production on an old industrial sewing machine.
Since that day eight years ago, the Tahoe City local has now produced more than 2,500 hats with the help of friends. But how many has he sold? Maybe 400.
Until two years ago when Thompson partnered up with his friend Galen Gifford and switched his profit strategy, all of the Dumptruck hats that Thompson made he gave away for free to friends and cool strangers.
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“I have always enjoyed the beauty of giving something to someone,” says Thompson. “Dumptruck was a side project so I had a strictly gifting business model for six years based on that ideal. Some said it was foolish, but now that we’re selling them we have already earned a cult following across the globe.”
Teamed up with Gifford, Thompson’s Dumptruck hats have now become the crown jewel of a growing fashion empire the pair founded together, DT Couture. At present, DT Couture is focused solely on year round head gear. New designs are sewn up daily with no two exactly alike aside from the namesake patch.
While you’ll still find Thompson at most hip local events hawking a jacket full of hats, he’s not as likely to give them away for a smile now that the hats sell steadily at local business like Mountain Mike’s, Tahoe Dave’s, and Fine N’Funky Clothiers in Tahoe City. You can still ask for a freebie, but expect to cough up the rum money if you really want to strut your stuff in one of DT Couture’s original and hand-crafted creations.
Check out DT Couture hats for all four seasons at http://www.dumptruckclothing.com.