The Myers brothers capture the mood of Northern Michigan
By: Kristy Kurjan
Fresh water, beaches, bonfires, and comfortable clothing. That is exactly what kiteboarding co-founders Matt and Keegan Myers had in mind for their M-22 clothing company based out of Traverse City. For the brothers, M-22 is a way to express appreciation for the region through comfortable fashion.
M-22 is not just a road; it is a way of life. The Myers brothers line of cotton apparel is a reflection of the simplicity and natural beauty that Northern Michigan gives its visitors.
Loving the beaches and Northern Michigan summers, that is the feeling our clothing represents, says Keegan. It is easy for people to relate to the road because of its cool location and most people already have an attachment to it- M-22 is a special place for people, good memories.
The company has a diverse customer base consisting of locals as well as out-of-towners. The brand also appeals to a wide age spectrum from 10-year-old boys to 80-year-old grandmas. And, with over 5,000 fans on facebook.com, the brand is growing in both size and popularity.
M-22s philosophy is to keep their styles simple and comfortable. When you get out of the water after a day at the beach you want to put on a comfortable sweatshirt, explains Keegan. We have done a lot of research on comfy hoodies.
The line is best known for its classic logo t-shirt but offers much more, including baseball hats, visors, coats and backpacks. Their store on West Front in downtown Traverse City even carries a line of M-22 coffee beans. Clothing is offered in mens, womens, youth and toddler sizes. Pricing range from $25 for a t-shirt to $49 for a sweatshirt.
Keegan says the M-22 brand will always have the classic standard M-22 t-shirts to represent the area, but the brothers are looking towards other ways to expand their brand.
Right now we are working on technically-enhanced garments such as spring/fall mid layer jackets, Keegan says. When it first started it was all logo wear. Now that the brand is growing we are becoming more refined and water focused.
THE ROAD TO SUCCESS
How did this athletic duo decide to mix fashion, kiteboarding and a road? We came up with the M-22 idea while kiteboarding, explains Keegan. All of the best kiteboarding spots are off of M-22. We first made t-shirts for our buddies and it took off from there.
The brothers grew up in Traverse City and attended Michigan State University. Keegan earning his degree in marketing and Matt in landscape architecture. Matt is the designer while Keegan takes care of marketing, organizing and the running of the business.
The two also own a kiteboarding company named Broneah, bro stands for brothers and Neah is short for Ne Ah Ta Wanta Road located on Old Mission Peninsula. During their college years they traveled the world, pursuing waves in places like Bora Bora and Tahiti. In recent years, they established a winter kiteboarding camp in Puerto Rico and have pursued their passion for big waves on the coast of Argentina.
Closer to home, youre likely to find them on the Lake Michigan coast in the summer, where a blossoming kiteboarding scene can be found off locales such as Point Betsie or Otter Creek in Benzie County.
In 2003, the brothers began making t-shirts and stickers with the M-22 road sign for their kiteboarding friends. After being featured on the cover of Traverse the Magazine in 2006, they took their products to boutiques in Leelanau County and began producing t-shirts, hoodies and stickers en masse. After receiving encouraging feedback from both customers and retailers, they decided to open a storefront. They now have an official M-22 brand store on Front Street in Traverse City and are opening a second store this May in Glen Arbor. In addition, their online website ships orders throughout the country.
The Myers brothers have a theory on the M-22 highway: The highway is the nicest, most beautiful stretch of road along any fresh water in the world. With this idea in mind, they incorporated eco-friendly ideas into their business model. A percentage of all sales are donated to The Leelanau Conservancy, helping to protect the landscape. They try to keep their production local by using Northern Michigan companies for their printing and screening needs.
Eco-friendly is huge for us; it is the basis of everything we believe, says Keegan who is always thinking of ways to save fresh water. The big driving force for us as a brand is to protect fresh water. Our hope is to set a good example for other companies to start similar programs helping protect our waters.
Another way the M-22 team is reaching out to the community is through The M-22 Challenge. The multisport event, held in Glen Arbor, benefits The Leelanau Conservancy. June 11 marks the third year of the Challenge. Competitors will participate in a 17 mile bike ride, a 2 mile run/dune climb, and finish with a 2 mile open water paddle. Registration is closed, as the 550 spots were filled up in just over 6 hours.
For more information on the M-22 clothing brand check out www.M-22online.com or visit their store fronts in Traverse City and Glen Arbor (opening in May, 2011).