MANSFIELD -- Paul Kemerling is now the owner of Made in the (419), a clothing label dedicated to showing pride for Mansfield and the area code it shares with much of northwest Ohio.
"Late last year, I noticed that the Made in the (419) folks had not come out with a holiday product blitz," said Kemerling, who also owns Relax, It's Just Coffee and The 'Field Market on North Main Street in Mansfield.
The serial entrepreneur contacted then-owners, Jay Allred and Carl Fernyak, learning of a manufacturing sabbatical and offered to buy the company from them. The sale was completed roughly two months ago.
"I bought the brand because I think it has real potential. I can see a variety of meaningful, local and regional (within the service area) opportunities to create customized, regionally branded clothing and assorted merchandise."
The purchase including the "Made In The 419" trademark, all existing designs, the existing website and all remaining product.
Allred said he was looking for someone new to take the reins of the company, and when Kemerling made an offer, he felt it was a perfect match.
"We had quietly been looking for a new owner for about a year," Allred said. "As we built Made in the 419, we knew right away that people loved the brand. We also learned pretty quickly that we were not effective retailers. It’s one thing to make up some t-shirts and hoodies, but a completely different thing to really build a business in gifts and apparel.
“Made in the 419 needed to be in the hands of someone capable of taking it to the next level. I’m 100 percent confident that Paul and his team will do that in creative, authentic ways. I’ll be first I’ll line to support them," Allred said.
Kemerling said sees potential for a highly curated site of artisan and craft-made products made within the service area.
"There are almost unlimited opportunities to partner with local municipalities/travel and tourism, local businesses, non-profits and historical societies for the creation of geographically significant merchandise. Not to mention the opportunities presented by iniitiatiives like the "Mansfield Rising" project," Kemerling said.
The focal point for his new business is to launch in a "Mansfield-centric way," he said. After tackling any design or production issues, Kemerling said he wants to scale the Mansfield model to other localities within the 419 zip code area.
"I think the brand previously struggled to create truly exciting images -- quite simply a failure of design," he said. "To that end, my friend and long-time design partner, Tim McKee, has been working on the creation of new images and design concepts."
Mechanics Bank is holding a “419 Day” partnering with Made in the (419) in hopes of providing an opportunity to get out in the community and surprise people at downtown Mansfield businesses.
"As an independent bank, the 419 is our home and we want to celebrate it. We thought “419 Day” would provide a great opportunity to get out in the community and surprise people at downtown Mansfield businesses," said Caroline Worner, digital marketing manager at Mechanics Bank. "We will be visiting five downtown businesses in-person tomorrow and giving vouchers for $5 off their purchase on 4.19 to the first 20 customers we see. We also have new “Made in the 419” notebooks for the first 10 customers we see at each business."
Mechanics will also will have separate Facebook giveaways tomorrow for a gift card and new “Made in the 419” Main Street Mansfield mug for each location we visit. The locations, Worner said, are a secret.