A T-shirt true believer
summit daily news
On the back wall of Zealous Apparel, in a frame right above the mission statement, is the first sketch of the Zealous Apparel logo. Owner Luke Drake keeps it there as a symbol of the brand’s beginnings.
Zealous Apparel marked its soft opening last weekend, and will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Zealous, which sells hats, T-shirts and sweatshirts, represents another new face of small business along Frisco Main Street.
Though the Zealous store may be new to Summit County, its owner is not. Born and raised in Frisco, Drake graduated from Summit High School in 2000 and has now come back to establish his store and his brand.
Buying a storefront in any other location was out of the question, Drake said. “I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else.”
When Drake left Summit County after high school, he spent time at Colorado Mesa University studying graphic design. He came to a turning point when he lost his apartment and nearly all of his possessions to a fire. He decided to leave the program and return to Summit.
Not long after coming back he broke his ankle. Though at the time it seemed like just another knot in his string of bad luck, it ended up more as a blessing in disguise.
“I had all this time to sit and draw and be artistic, and kind of find myself,” said Drake.
Zealous was taking form.
The Zealous logo is a capital “Z” next to a backwards “L.” The negative space between the two letters forms the outline of a tree. The “ZL” aspect is a nod to the county license plates found in the mountains. The tree makes its appearance in various designs, displaying an intricate root system as well as branches. To Drake, the tree represents life and strength, while the roots represent a strong foundation.
“Everything in my company has symbolism,” said Drake.
All of the designs found at Zealous Apparel were created by Drake himself.
Some companies use large automated machines to print logos on their clothing, but Drake does it all by hand in a 20-by-20-foot studio. He employs a method called screen printing, which uses a stencil to transfer ink into the design on the material. He learned and became enamored with this technique, he said, while working at Shirt Off My Back in Breckenridge.
“I was so inspired,” Drake said. “I loved screen printing so much.”
Though the store has only just opened, Drake has been working on and promoting the Zealous Apparel brand since 2005, when he founded the company. He says he has been “coast to coast” with the brand, mostly running with word of mouth at music festivals and with friends. Drake himself was a part of a hip-hop band in Summit County called Recess. He said he’s literally given the shirt off his back to people curious about the brand.
His next step, he says, is to focus on building his online presence.
It’s been a long journey, but Drake has been enjoying the process and says he’s focusing on being positive.
“(Zealous) is different. It means passion. That’s what this world needs,” he said. “Lots of little things confirmed along the way that this is the right path for me. I feel blessed.”
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