Three Ways to Wear Your Pride: Maintain Your Integrity
Started by Tara Puntasecca of Lodi in 2009, MAINTENANCE Clothing contributes a different kind of message to local fashion. This brand revolves itself around one philosophy: Maintain what you love. Generally, every shirt has its own concept, like ‘MAINTAIN YOUR MUSIC’ or ‘MAINTAIN YOUR COMPOSURE’ and the design reflects the theme of that specific tee. Tara explains, “We don’t make shirts just to make a quick buck. We make shirts that mean something.” Tara’s brand promotes positivity, which adds to the distinctive industrial style.
The concept behind MAINTENANCE started as Tara was venting in her journal about all the things in life that she had to balance: job, finances, friendships, relationships, hobbies and other important things going on in her life. “At the bottom of the page, I scribbled the word ‘maintenance’ and started writing ‘maintain all that you love’ and ‘maintain love’.” After realizing the phrase could fit a clothing line, Tara told her friends about it, and networked with photographers and graphic designers in the area. She started envisioning specific models that could be the faces of her brand and spent countless hours researching possible ways to get her own clothing line started. MAINTENANCE Clothing’s co-owner, Kristian Szabo, contributes his creativity to the brand by handling web development, photography, and screen printing. Tara is grateful for his help: “Kris has taken my idea and really helped shape it into something way more incredible than I could have accomplished all on my own.”
Tara’s dedication, creativity, and discipline led her to making careful decisions about running her business, and she did a lot of research and networking. She also found that honesty is an important factor in maintaining business relationships and keeping them focused on the creative goal. She finds that it was necessary to train herself as a business owner to make educated decisions and be selective in being spontaneous and going with her gut. Part of her process in decision-making for MAINTENANCE designs includes getting a focus group together and asking around for opinions. She is always open to ideas and understands that, even though she is the creator of the line, other people’s creativity and opinions are valuable.
Some of her challenges included getting the right people involved to ensure success and expansion while keeping the integrity of the brand. She explains, “As the owner, it is my job to protect the brand and make sure that all of the right people are involved.” At times, Tara would find that not everyone she worked with would be the right fit for furthering the brand. She found that it was important to find people who remain dedicated to the business and demonstrate integrity at all times.
Tara is constantly learning something new every day as far as building relationships and making sound decisions for her business. She offers some advice to those looking to start a legitimate business: “A great place to find out how to do it, find funding and take some business crash courses is www.sba.gov.” Her motivation to make her clothing line successful and meaningful has led her to study what helps a small business develop, and she has used that knowledge to make big things happen with her clothing line. As a result, MAINTENANCE has very supportive affiliates and sponsors artists.
Tara says that MAINTENANCE is a brand that offers a solid concept and foundation, and the designs will always evolve and change with the times. She adds, “Clothing lines and indie brands are a dime a dozen – especially in this area. We like to mix things up and represent our philosophy in all different ways and have something for everyone.” The MAINTENANCE logo is meant to be a symbol of strength, control, and balance, according to Tara.
Tara’s love for designing and being involved in the community has given her the ability to make great strides with her clothing company, supporting the idea that great things are possible for those doing it themselves with the right ideas and support.