Got Sota? These shirts do

A local t-shirt company abbreviates the name but capitalizes on Minnesota spirit.

Katherine Lymn

The product is simple: one word on a shirt that comes in five colors. But the story behind this word, âÄúSota,âÄù and the Sota Pride T-shirt company carries a much deeper meaning. While the company has cycled through the hands of different investors and partners over its two-year life, Sota Pride has always stayed in the University of Minnesota crowd and in one family in particular. Randy Price , an original investor in the company said his son Matthew had the idea while he was a student at the University. âÄú[Matthew] always talked about âÄòSotaâÄô and the pride he had in the state,âÄù Randy Price said, âÄúand how [he and his friends] endearingly used the term âÄòSota,âÄô âĦwhen they referred to the state of Minnesota and the teams.âÄù Inventory has recently been expanded from three University colors to include Minnesota Twins colors, reflective of this sporting aspect of Sota pride. Matthew Price then recruited a couple of other University students to get involved back in 2008, after floating the idea to âÄúeveryone he would talk to.âÄù Soon after, the students became occupied with other ventures and jobs. Randy Price offered to take over, and reapplied for the license to carry on the âÄúSotaâÄù line. The term was actually trademarked in early 2009, and has been slowly growing its underground fan base ever since. Currently, the inventory is made up of five different designs of âÄúSotaâÄù T-shirts, some of which are available as sweatshirts. âÄúInitially, I didnâÄôt think it would be that successful,âÄù said Colin Corrado , the Web page designer for SotaPride.com and a 2008 design graduate of the University. But word-of-mouth has led to a sort of underground fan base for the T-shirts, aided by a popular Facebook page. And just as word of the T-shirts spread, so did word of work opportunities âÄî with more to come. Finance sophomore Henrique Akaishi heard about the start-up from Matthew Price when they were students together. âÄúHe told me the idea and I thought it was great,âÄù Akaishi said. Akaishi, who hopes to have a central role in the business in the future, said he wants to add interns to the Sota team as soon as it is feasible. Despite the hype of the last few months, Randy Price said the business still has many of the 900 T-shirts ordered in inventory. The football season will likely bring a spike in sales, Corrado said. Sales since the first year of off-and-on business have peaked in recent months since the Web siteâÄôs launch. Corrado said the group is looking to student input for additional designs. This will likely be done through submitting designs or voting on them, he said. âÄùWeâÄôre going to be expanding out designs just to reflect what students want to wear,âÄù Corrado said, âÄúversus what you can buy at GoldyâÄôs Locker Room or whatever.âÄù