Minnesota native Nate Blomquist didn’t pursue a position in the snowboarding industry, it just ended up happening for him. His long-time passion for creating unique apparel blossomed into a business through trial and error and the support of good friends. Unlike most on this list, Nate doesn’t punch in and out for anyone other than himself. He’s created his own success. In a field where many have tried only to be unsuccessful, Nate has managed to create traction and has slowly garnered momentum through patience and persistence. For him, the end goal is rooted in giving back to the community that has supported Common Apparel from the start. He has repeatedly held events at Mont Du Lac in Wisconsin for rowdy springtime DIY sessions after the resort has shut its door for the season, and measures his success with Common not by sales, but by community impact and support. His story is every young clothing company pursuer’s dream, and his resilience has yet to fully pay off. — Owen Ringwall
Birthdate: January 30th, 1992
Current title: Founder of Common Apparel
What does your current position in the snowboarding industry entail? Describe a typical day on the job.
Well, my current position is running a clothing brand out of Minnesota and trying to keep something that has roots but also keep the growth of the brand in motion. We are currently based in Duluth, so our office is downtown near Lake Superior. I started the brand back in 2010 and did most of the hands on decorating myself until a couple years ago where we kind of took it to the next step with a vision to expand to how a lot of the bigger brands work. So recently we design tech packs and figure out cut n sew patterns so our fits are better and then we get samples made in Brooklyn, NY. We then plan in advance to attend trade shows like Agenda and other snow shows to try and work with distributors or retail shop owners. But all in all my favorite part is designing the styles and color options then I work with my friends or artists that are down to contribute artwork and fonts for the decoration/branding on the styles. While doing all that I help with day to day operations like getting online orders out, keeping up with shop orders, planning events, social media stuff, and just thinking of new and creative ways to get the brand out there. I also am constantly working with manufacturers and networking to work with other brands and keep everything running smooth. I also try my best to get out and film in the streets with the homies, but as we get busier it can be tricky to manage everything. I hope to do more of that in the future and strategize my time better. We’ve got some cool concepts in the works that should allow us to work with more people or even hire people to help keep this thing constantly evolve.
Where are you from and where do you currently call home?
I grew up in Plymouth, MN but I have been living in Duluth up north for 8 years now. I might be making a move soon to a bigger city for a change of pace but Duluth I will always call home. It is a growing artist community and there are so many outdoor things to do. I definitely would plan to move back at some point but it’s still up in the air.
How did you start snowboarding?
I got into snowboarding when I discovered Elm Creek. I became friends with Jesse Paul and everyone there, so it was a good vibe all the time so I just went there in the winter, there was always someone there to ride with. Also once they got their two high-speed ropes, I was hooked. I kind of used hand me down boards at first but once I bought my first Academy board from my local shop growing up (The Hut), it just became a huge part of my life. Once I got in to hitting the street and filming it’s become a very fun and rewarding hobby.
At what point did you realize that you wanted to work in the snowboard industry?
I didn’t really think I would want to work in the industry, I just liked making clothes and it kinda brought me into it organically. I just liked to travel and people liked the stuff I made. Once I got back filming out at Windells in 2014, I kinda figured I was going to stick with it and keep trying to get more involved in the industry side of things.
And how did you make that happen?
I helped with film projects like The Impaler and Strange Brew so I did a lot of traveling so I met a lot of really great people on the way. While doing all this I would just try and promote the brand as much as I could and get all the homies backing the gear in the videos. I tried to keep everything friend based and not try to expand too quickly. I wanted to build a solid base and just let it grow organically.
Who did you look up to in the industry for inspiration?
I have a lot of people I have looked up to over the years but I would have to say Jesse Paul, Jake Durham, Jonas Michilot, Tommy Gesme, Pete Harvieux, and Scott from Cal Surf board shop are the biggest inspirations I can think of on the top of my head.
What do you feel has been your biggest impact in your line of work?
I think giving back to the local community here in Minnesota has been my favorite and keeping kids stoked and keeping current over the years with trends changing so often. I just hope others saw that it is possible to start something on your own and keep at it, with time it’ll get somewhere.
What do you want to accomplish that you haven’t yet?
I really would like to give back to all those who have been there since day one and get more people involved directly with the operations of the brand. I guess what that takes is treating this as a career so I have plans in the works on how to accomplish that. I am pretty stoked to have been so young starting something but I think it could be something bigger, so I hope to see that in the future. I have learned through mistakes and I think we got enough people excited on what we have going, so it’s a nice feeling to have. It’s been fun so far so I hope to accomplish a lot more down the road.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
I would like to thank Colton Allen, who has invested the most time with me over the last few years. I also would like to thank all my riders who have had my back since day one like Jesse Paul, Colin Wilson, Aidan Flanagan, Andy Pearson, Mike Liddle, and all the boys that we see on and off the hill. Jake Braseth, he has been helping out since day one with graphics so he has been a good friend over the years. I also would like to thank all the reps and shop owners that work with me whether it is just hanging out, supporting, or giving advice to me along the way. Sam Jorgensen has also been a key help to where we have got to… along with everyone that helped during our basement operations Castle Danger, Knife Island, and The Carter project in Duluth. The Minnesota snow community as a whole I would like to thank because everyone supports each other and keeps things fun all the time.