Class Project Leads Spencer Johnson To Founding Sota Clothing


Spencer Johnson created his own path. In a day and age when your college degree does not necessarily correlate to your future profession, Johnson literally can make a direct line between his education at the University of Minnesota Duluth and his current job.

That’s because he created his own company while sitting in a UMD course during his senior year.

Johnson, tasked with a class assignment to create a fictional company in his Senior Design Studio II course. He did just that, not only creating the company branding behind it, but also making taking his A-work with him post-college by building his own company: Sota Clothing.

“After I presented my project to the class, a lot of classmates were interested to see if I was going to make Sota Clothing a reality,” Johnson said in a recent Best Wishes Magazine article. “Now, after graduating from UMD (in 2011), Sota Clothing has transformed into my full-time job.”

Sota Clothing is a brand that makes apparel, coffee mugs, hats and other items that help you show off your Minnesota pride. It’s a look that fits whether you’re at the cabin, enjoying a day at your favorite coffee shop in the city, or taking a stroll along Lake of the Isles.

It is a look with which all Minnesotans can identify.

And you can see it first-hand at Holidazzle.

Sota Clothing will be joining the Holidazzle vendors as a pop-up shop December 17-20 in Loring Park. They’ll be on site selling their apparel and merchandise on Thursdays and Fridays from 5-9 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am-9 pm.

It’s a Minneapolis holiday tradition that spans decades, and it’s an opportunity for you to showcase your strong roots here in our state by coming out, enjoying the Holidazzle festivities and leaving with Sota Clothing apparel.

He began by selling to his friends, and the company continued to grow. His vision of his company is an “authentic wearable representation of Minnesota life.”

Johnson has always had a passion for Minnesota and for helping showcase his state through arts and designs. He’s also a photographer and enjoys taking photos that truly showcase all that Minneapolis has to offer. Since moving to Minneapolis from the western suburbs in the summer of 2014, he has used his new city for inspiration and sensational backdrops to his photography trade.

“I grew up in the suburbs, with cookie-cutter homes and mall/shops,” he said. “It wasn’t easy finding backdrops for my photography there. When I finally moved to Minneapolis, however, it was night and day for shooting. The neighborhood I live in has historic homes that are rich with character. When you walk around the block, it’s easy to find multiple back drops. The style of Minneapolis also fits in with my style. We have parks, history, city, and much more.”

It only make sense that Johnson and his affection for Minneapolis and tradition is here at Holidazzle.

His Sota Clothing is a practical, tangible product that people can wear and sport all around the world as they represent their state.

He did just that early on as a way of sharing his vision with others—bringing it to the Minnesota State Fair and even taking his merchandise on tour to Europe.

The results have been sensational.

“The fact that people actually stopped and bought stuff because they liked what I was doing was a lot of fun to see,” Johnson told the UMD Alumnus website. “I’d like them to have the sense that they’re wearing this [Sota Clothing] because they really like it versus alright, this is a shirt that’s clean.”

When you stop by and visit his booth at Holidazzle, remember that his vision began in the classroom with a passion for his state and an opportunity to dream big.

He’s never forgotten those fundamental principles. Today, it remains his advice for himself and for others.

“Just keep going, keep trying,” he said. “Keep trying the most random stuff you possibly can think of, so far out of the box. You never know what won’t work.”