Phil Hurst’s garage isn’t full of cars or exercise equipment. Inside, one finds T-shirts — lots of them.
A Cal Poly alumnus, Hurst (who used to peddle shirts under the name Genuine Stolen) owns Live Local Apparel, a clothing line inspired by the friendly people, beautiful nature and historic places of the Central Coast.
From a bird’s-eye view of the Cal Poly campus to a street view of the historic Fremont Theatre, Hurst’s screen-printed graphics, crafted with a press in his garage that he helped design, appear on American-made T-shirts.
“The shirts are something that a local would pay to wear and look good in,” Hurst said. “They can be stoked about being from SLO.”
While Hurst sells his shirts along with tote bags and tank tops at Farmers’ Market and stores downtown such as Boo Boo Records and Dr. Cain’s Comics and Games, he is currently working on a more mobile business approach.
He acquired a large vending truck from Santa Barbara off Craigslist.com and is transforming the automobile into a fashion truck, drawing inspiration from similar fashion trucks currently trending in Los Angeles.
“Someone told me about the fashion trucks in L.A. and how there’s a whole following for the trucks,” Hurst said. “They tweet their followers and meet up with food trucks and have these big crazy events.”
For Hurst, the idea of a fashion truck to display his products in San Luis Obispo correlates perfectly with his love for guerilla marketing — a strategy that employs creative and unconventional means to promote a product or business.
“Advertising in my opinion makes people angry, and guerilla marketing enhances your day,” Hurst said. “It’s fun and weird.
But redesigning a truck from the inside out is expensive; especially the vinyl wrap Hurst wants on the outside of the truck to transform the overall color and design.
Luckily, Hurst has a friend in a graphic design business in San Luis Obispo who believes in him and his project enough to offer a deal on the wrap, once he can afford the mobile makeover.
“I see (Hurst) as someone starting a trend to do something that revolves around taking pride in where we live,” Lola Red Design Group owner Elizabeth Howard said. “Someone believed in me enough to help me out when I was starting my business and I want to help him out.”
Hurst also launched Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns for his brand.
“I set a goal and people can donate money for my project, and then they get a prize like a T-shirt or hat,” Hurst said. “Depending on how much they donate, they get a better prize.”
Some people may call Hurst ambitious, but his roommate, who sees Hurst work day in and day out, affectionately refers to him as a maniac.
“He’s passionate about his stuff,” roommate Tom Sinnickson said. “Some may think you can just come up with some shirts and then boom, you’re done. But he’s been working his ass off for years now.”
Hurst is also working on getting a permit through the city to sell his clothing out of the truck in public places.
But he is taking his endeavors one step at a time, an approach that has worked well so far for the young entrepreneur.
“A lot is happening,” Hurst said. “I don’t like to put deadlines on my business because that makes it feel like work … and all the fun is lost.”