Laid-back lifestyle, dedication to his craft, go hand in hand for young business owner


Rolling out of bed in the basement of a Duluth home around what typically is lunchtime for most is how Nate Blomquist’s day begins.

Being a skateboarder and snowboarder, the joys of life come with the laid-back lifestyle that older generations see as part of the lazy younger generation.

While waking up only a few feet from his screen printer and sewing machine, with boxes upon boxes of product, in a business that started many years ago, Blomquist can’t be defined by the stereotype of his generation.

“I get up and skate, film -- if it’s nice out. Then (I) go home and import clips and start sewing around dinner,” Blomquist said.

Creating simple and efficient clothing, Blomquist shows his passion by traveling and sharing his product at festivals and events, making the brand something known in the skating and snowboarding communities.

“Nate’s a strange kid. He’s always scheming something,” said Jake Braseth, artistic director of Common Apparel.

It all began during a high school marketing research project. In the summer of 2010, Blomquist realized it could become reality.

After deciding on the name Common Apparel, Blomquist began the free-spirited journey. Having a business mind, the company started with nothing, no loans -- nothing. The business put the money made back into Common Apparel to allow it the chance to grow.

Selling a variety of hats up to $25 and clothing up to $60, Blomquist continues to share his passion.

Studying at the University of Minnesota Duluth for one year and Lake Superior College for two, he is one class short of a two-year degree.

Now 22, he continues to stay true to his roots and having a grasp of community.

“It’s from us to you -- our hands to your hands. We touch everything,” Blomquist said.

Since the beginning of his endeavors, Blomquist has supported local shops that sell his brand. He said it’s his way of showing appreciation to all the people who have contributed to getting the name out there and growing the business.

Finding ways to get the company’s name out there has never seemed to be a problem; last-minute road trips, sticker slapping and having team riders who are “homies” of Blomquist’s seem to benefit the company greatly. The team riders enter contests and wear the brand, leading to magazine articles, shoutouts and sponsors.

As Common Apparel continues to grow and make its name in the skating and snowboarding communities, Blomquist continues to have the same low-key, laid-back lifestyle.

Sam Jorgensen, a skate kid in Duluth, said most clothing businesses in the skating industry start and then fade out.  He’s never seen someone stay with it as long as Blomquist has.

With many hours put into his company, and friends helping along the way, Blomquist shows just what older generations don’t see.

“I’m a night owl. I stay up until 4, 5 a.m. That is when I do all the video and photo editing, making the product, screen printing, sewing and business paperwork,” Blomquist said.

Hoping to skate, snowboard, travel and have Common Apparel for years to come, Blomquist is known to be a funny kid by his friends.

He’s been successful without the benefit of a college degree and corporate job because he likes what he does, he said.

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