Every story starts somewhere. We’re Brandon and Carly and our story started just like every other young family. With two small children and no grand plan for life, we were just taking it day by day like everyone else. Both working to make ends meet, it always seemed to be a small miracle that the bills got paid by the end of the month. Leaving our kids in the morning, going to jobs we didn’t like, just to pay for a car and gas to get there, it started to make less and less sense. We needed a new plan.
We believe that great style begins with great design—and probably a great cup of coffee too. Every single design is usually conceived in our living room, we sketch, sample fabric, and bring our clothes to life. We’re into vintage graphics, super soft cotton and believe a good brand is all about great customer service.
We decided the paycheck to paycheck life wasn’t for us. We didn’t want to just go find better jobs because we didn’t want to leave our kids. So we had to build something that’d work for us. We put our heads together and drafted a business plan to start our own company. Our idea was to “sell what you know.” I knew a little bit about graphic design and Carly was good with numbers because she worked in corporate finance. What we came up with was the framework for a clothing brand based on vintage design and quality fabrics. We ran the numbers front and back, a hundred times and it was going to be a long shot.
We started with a few simple designs and printed them on the softest tees we could find. We applied to have a table at every craft fair, local maker market, you name it, we showed up. The initial response was pretty underwhelming. Sometimes we’d only break even, but we just kept showing up. We handed out so many business cards, contacted local boutiques and had so much love and support from our friends and family that believed in us, that eventually we started gaining traction. Sales started coming through our website and we’d come home from work, do normal family stuff and once the kids were in bed, we’d fill orders. It was exhausting, but it showed promise. And so it went, working crazy hours and we were pregnant with our 3rd child, we needed to take a chance. A big chance. Should we quit our jobs and gamble on ourselves?
We went all in. It was terrifying and exhilarating. No boss, no long daily commute, it was awesome! Well, sorta. We lost the security of a weekly pay check and health benefits. Oh God. What have we done? After freaking out, we pulled ourselves together and got to work. We put everything we had into building our brand. We designed round the clock, we got the best fabrics and found the best technique to get the softest prints. Because we thought “hey, if we’re going to fail, we’re going to go down making the best product we can.” It took some time, but people took notice and our little gamble started to pay off.
Since then we've sold tens of thousands of t-shirts and some of the biggest retailers in the world like Nordstroms, Dick's Sporting Goods and Urban Outfitters carry our products. We even stock boutiques in Japan! Celebrities like Seth Myers, Joe Manganiello, and Eddie Vedder have worn our shirts. We've built this brand from scratch, with a single purpose; to make people happy.
Steel City has earned a reputation for home grown quality. Years later the brand is still growing strong. From a few simple designs we now have a full line of tees, hoodies and accessories. We really couldn't imagine doing anything else. We’re so thankful to have such loyal customers. It’s the best job in the world.
We met and fell in love when we were 17.
We don't have a dog.
Brandon was born with only a single kidney.
Carly doesn't have a middle name.
Steel City raised $14,000 in two weeks for Breast Cancer awareness.
Steel City is the only independent brand featured by the NFL.
The entire Pittsburgh Steelers team wore our tees under their jerseys during a game.