Today we’d like to introduce you to Will Von Rosenberg.
Hi Will, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
I had been in the oil & gas business since graduating from Texas Tech in 2006. Fast forward through some work in the Dallas area and stint in South Texas, and in 2011 I found myself in Midland, Texas, where I worked for a friend of mine. We started putting together a lot of land positions that we would sell to exploration companies. I had a great five-year run, but by 2016 I began to get really burnt out on the oil & gas business and the make money at all cost mentality. That’s all we cared about and strived for back then, and I wouldn’t make a dollar if I didn’t go out and find deals. That really took a toll on me, and I thought there had to be more to life than just seeking wealth and greed and a country club membership haha. I needed more than that and had a huge desire to start something of my own that meant more than just getting rich. So in 2016, after a lot of internal battles and brainstorming, I picked up and headed back to Austin, where I had grown up (fifth generation Austinite).
I was ready to get back and just immerse myself in the whole Austin active culture. I got a little one-bedroom apartment on South 1st Street and a dedicated desk at the WeWork off of Congress and I was on my way! I would ride my bike down to WeWork and on the way home, I would hit the trail for a run. I got so into running I felt like I became a completely different person. The runner’s high was so real for me back then. I would have tons of ideas rush my brain during every run and bike ride, and I would jot down all of these things. I had recently read Blake Mycoskie’s book “Start Something That Matters,” which is pretty corny but just what I needed at the time. I knew that I wanted to do something similar to what he was able to do with Toms. I wanted to create a business for good. Something that the Austin community was a part of and that would allow me to give back in some way. I had written down all these guidelines for a business but still wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to dive in on, but I was getting frustrated with the running shorts that were on the market. Since I didn’t really considered myself a true runner, nor had I competed in the sport of running since I was in the 7th grade, I didn’t feel worthy of wearing the little split shorts that the die-hard runners were wearing. They had like 2-inch inseams, and that’s just not my style. I needed at least a 5-inch inseam and preferred to have a built-in brief to keep everything locked in tight and reduce the chafing that underwear liners would often cause.
This was early 2017 so there were a couple brands out there that did have the built in brief, but I only really liked one brand that I found hanging at The Austin Tricyclist. So I took that pair as my base sample and started reaching out to designers and sample makers in Austin. From the beginning I wanted to be 100% local. I wanted to source material, cut and sew in Austin. The farm-to-table movement was getting really big and I thought that would translate in what I was trying to do. Unfortunately, after about six months, I had to look elsewhere as I kept getting overpromised and underdelivered with the few fashion designers and sample makers that were in town. I decided to join this subscription-based online community called Makers Row. There were thousands of designers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs from all over the world plugged into this network. I found a factory out of Denver that really got the Austin vibe I was going for, and they made me a few products that were pretty cool, but the timeline was way longer than expected (another six months or so) and the price point was not feasible for me. At this point, I was starting to give up, but I continued to get my runs in and joined a running group called RAW Running that really inspired me to stay on course and keep going forward.
Almost out of options, but still extremely driven to figure out this whole clothing business, I came across a lady named Alice James that was on Makers Row as a freelance design and manufacture specialist and she just so happened to live in Austin just a few miles from me, so I immediately reached out to her and we met for coffee at Genuine Joe’s. She had been the lead designer and merchandiser for Golfsmith and their apparel brand Snake Eyes. They had just shut down so she decided to start freelancing. She had extensive fashion and design experience and relationships with factories that would have taken me years to develop or much less even find on my own. So we immediately started working on our tech packs for our shorts and shirts for men and women. The factory that we worked with was in India but had a main office in North Carolina, where two of the partners lived. They were great to work with and after a lot of fit tests, samples and back and forth with the factory in India our first full line arrived in Austin in 2019, which is technical activewear for men and women.
This was an exciting time, but the dream still wasn’t quite complete. From the beginning, I really envisioned having a flagship location that would serve as our storefront shop where we could showcase our capsule collections of apparel. I also wanted it to be a hangout spot for my running friends with a heavy music and Austin-centric vibe. And since I am a pseudo musician I was also looking for a place that had enough space to store all my guitars and music equipment. After a lot of searching, another six months or so, I finally found this really cool spot on West 6th Street. It’s an old victorian house and historical Austin landmark. I signed the lease in February of 2020, and we transformed this into The Clubhouse on 6th. We have the shop here with our clothing line for sale and on display and we also have a media room, and we converted one of the bigger rooms into a music studio and business that we call Clubhouse Music. We have a different local beer on tap every month as well.
Covid hit in March of 2020, so that threw a big wrench in the plans we had for the Clubhouse, but we finally were able to have a big launch party in May 2021, and have been open to the public since. We have recently added technical high rise leggings, and running singlets (tank tops) to our line and are really excited about the the merino wool/nylon vintage style polos and technical tee shirts we currently have in production. We like to refer to these as capsule collections as they’re small batch limited production run products, and our Clubhouse Crew of active Austinites that frequent the Clubhouse help with our design process by providing us with feedback and ideas for new products. Mainly solving problems they encounter with the big box brand products.
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Very unsmooth. The main struggle was finding designers and manufacturers that stuck to their word and would deliver on their promises, but there were also financial struggles rounding up enough money to cover purchase orders and designer invoices without having a dollar of revenue or even a product to sell. You really just have to trust in yourself and the process, which at times that was a struggle for me. It is very important to continue to improve yourself to be the best version of you because at the end of the day you are the captain of the ship and your attitude, vision, principles and imagination are what dictates the direction the ship is going to head.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
We are a boutique, limited production, technical apparel brand. We use our local community to come up with designs that we formulate locally at The Clubhouse on 6th, and test out in the Austin streets and on the Austin trails. We specialize in small batch unique capsule collections of technical apparel for the active lifestyle. Being a fifth generation Austinite, we are local and really care about the local community. We give back through various local organizations such as Austin Sunshine Camps, Back on My Feet and American Cancer Society.
We offer everyone who walks through the Clubhouse doors a special Austin experience that goes beyond a traditional retail shopping experience.
Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
I’ve learned a lot of lessons. Especially the fact that you just have to persevere, and find ways to keep going. Think outside the box and never give up. Find different perspectives to keep you motivated and positive during the negative times. Always try to have money saved for unexpected situations to keep you afloat.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://clubhouseatx.com
- Instagram: @clubhouseoutfitters
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CoubhouseOutfitters
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClubhouseATX
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/clubhouse-austin
Austin Fit Magazine, Brian Fitzsimmons – Photographer Bryan Diebel, photographer (every image except the Austin Fit Mag image)