South Dakota native Katie Farritor was tired of seeing touristy t-shirts advertising must-see destinations like Mount Rushmore and Harney Peak everywhere she went near her home in South Dakota’s Black Hills. So this graphic designer with an interest in fashion decided to do something different.
Cue Dakota Uprising, Farritor’s graphic tee brand touting all things West River.
“Basically I just wanted to bring a more modern, chic style to the Black Hills,” Farritor said. “The shirts are based off places I love here—they’re not touristy. No more ‘I went to Mount Rushmore’ t-shirts.”
Farritor said moving to West River South Dakota inspired her to start the online fashion business nearly a year ago. It was the idea of printing the names of hiking trails on shirts, wanting to collect them all, that spun off into what Dakota Uprising is today.
And what it is today is a full-fledged brand bent on staying true to its Black Hills roots by giving wearers a stylish dose of South Dakota pride. For Farritor, this has nothing to do with marketing, it’s simply her way of sharing her favorite spots with a larger audience.
Though Dakota Uprising wants to remain online-based, Farritor said she does hope to sell the merchandise at boutiques that share her vision for keeping things local. But operating solely in cyberspace hasn’t limited the growing business, far from it. Using social media platforms like Instagram, Farritor said she’s been able to market to an increasing number of followers who share her love of the Black Hills, while also securing the brand’s first advertising spread in 605 Magazine.
“I was happy 605 chose to include Dakota Uprising in their travel issue,” Farritor said. “We’ve noticed some returns on that, for sure.”
In Farritor’s mind, comfort has always been the main thing she wanted in her Black Hills-centric clothing brand. Each shirt is custom made at a printing company in California and shipped directly to the customer. It’s a hands-off system Farritor said works well for her lifestyle.
“I’ve personally tested out the products and chosen styles and materials based on the clothes I like,” she said. “The inspiration for new shirts comes from what I see other people wearing, current trends and networking. Ultimately I want all the shirts we sell to be super soft and comfortable.”
As her business continues to grow, Farritor said she hopes to eventually make the move toward wholesale pricing as a way to get the clothing into more hands, making the brand more accessible for those who don’t want to buy online. Creating a network with local shops is Farritor’s ultimate goal.
But one thing about Dakota Uprising is sure to never change: the brand’s commitment to its Black Hills heritage.
“I’ve never seen a business whose brand is specific to one area like ours is,” Farritor said. “I always want to keep Dakota Uprising Black Hills-based, it’s what makes us unique.”