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Business and Bees: Hive Drive
Two UMD students and friend launched Hive Apparel.
Two UMD students, Cole Ehresmann and Seth Klein, along with their friend Josh Robinson, have launched Hive Apparel and the company has taken off like a swarm of bees.
The Hive Apparel Facebook page features videos of skateboard kick flips, snowboard straight airs, and marketing pitch bloopers. Social media is their marketing approach, and it’s working.
The idea began in Buffalo, Minn. in Cole Ehresmann’s kitchen. “Honestly, I was bored,” Ehresmann said. “I sat down with my mom for breakfast and we talked about some options for her own business.” That’s when the idea came to Cole. He wanted a clothing line influenced by the skateboard and snowboard culture. He also wanted the company to do something important.
In two short years, Cole and his partners are well on their way. Their company’s revenues were $30,000 in 2015.
Bees play a big role in this environmentally conscious street-wear company. The name Hive Apparel refers to their concern for the dwindling bee population. They give five percent of their profits to the University of Minnesota Bee Squad. The Bee Squad is a research group specializing in education about the recent bee decline and how to maintain a hive.
Cole is about to start his third year at UMD in the entrepreneurship program, and he’s already an entrepreneur. His studies have helped him advance Hive Apparel through website design and managing the books.
Hive has everything a skater, or anyone wanting to support bees, could be looking for–from t-shirts and snapbacks to crop tops and bucket hats.
“I plan to create a production team to help build services to back our product,” Cole said. “In time, opening a full facility skateboarding and snowboarding camp would be something of interest, as well as a separate facility where we can make our products and at the same time help other small brands build their companies.”
Hive Apparel’s ambitions have grown outside of Duluth to a hopeful deal with the nationwide skate shop Zumiez and to events like Minnesota’s 10-hour, 40+ hip-hop artist Soundset music festival, which features musicians such as Minnesota locals Atmosphere and Doomtree.
And if that wasn’t enough, since winning the UMD Labovitz School of Business and Economic’s entrepreneurship program sponsored Shark Tank in spring 2016, the crew has advanced to the video audition stage with the "Shark Tank" reality show on ABC.
“There is nothing better than [feeling] your own self worth, so if you don’t want to work for the man, you don’t have to,” Ehresmann said. He has advice, “Create something worthwhile you can base the rest of your life off of.”