Aaron Fraher of Midwest Clothing
Be sure to check out Midwest Clothing here
Aaron Fraher a genuine guy with great products for the masses. I personally admire his hard work and how he enjoys fulfilling making paintball products better. You know him originally from Air Assault out in Minnesota, one of the cleanest fields I’ve seen on the planet taken care by this guy. Read and learn more about Aaron and Midwest Clothing, he’s the man!
T: So how’s the year been in paintball for you Aaron?
Aaron: For me the year in paintball was 95% selling and 5% playing. I partnered up with my long time friend John Frank to get our company Midwest Clothing off the ground and start making waves in the paintball scene. The only time I got out to play was a big game with a scenario team we sponsor, but it was a blast and brought me back to what I love most about playing this great sport. For the first time in almost a decade I don’t work for a paintball field or store, so I finally have the elusive free time to start playing again and attend some events with Midwest Clothing as a vendor to get the name out there and grow the brand.
T: It was an interesting change, you went from working at Air Assault to creating a flourishing Midwest Clothing which definitely caught the peoples eye. What were your expectations personally for Midwest Clothing in the beginning?
Aaron: John had a following from years of sewing headbands in his free time for the Sandana community, so I went in to it knowing there was a following already. The benefit we had was that I had a deep pool of prior customers and friends that I could reach out to to rapidly grow our customer base and gain brand recognition quickly. We went into this wanting to make some extra money on the side, but as it grew and expanded we soon realized this could become a sustainable business for us with the increasing demand for custom gear and not just the same old “off the shelf” stuff people have been forced to get used to.
T: What makes the brand different?
Aaron: What makes us different than other companies (not naming anyone specifically) is that we are trying to bring back some old school flare to a sport that seems to have forgotten its roots. Our focus is small-run, custom headgear and soft goods for teams that are looking to differentiate themselves from the crowd. We launched a new sponsorship program called the “No Coast” Program in which teams are able to get fully custom pants, jerseys, headbands, shirts and more for some very affordable price points. What sets us apart here is that we help teams establish themselves and start a brand. We also allow teams to create their own products to sell in which they can help fund their team for events and practices. We offered the program in another format beginning of this year and it allowed us to work with some top level teams like Chicago Aftershock, Seattle Thunder and TMG Outlaws. We are excited to continue those relationships into 2017 and hopefully make some new ones as well! Inspired by programs we’d seen in the past, we also started the Midwest Soldier Program. This program is for individuals who want to feel like a part of our family and help us grow the brand. They get exclusive Soldier gear and also have the opportunity to help sell the products we offer to help make themselves some money to find their paintball addictions. The Soldier program is brand new as of about a month ago but is already off to a great start!
T: Fantastic, I love the concept. This is what we need more of, I feel you guys definitely achieved that. I saw you also had signature series for pro players too, who are they and is it available yet?
Aaron: Ya man, we approached individual players first which is what lead to the teams working with us. We work with Carl Markowski, Ronnie Dizon, Drew Templeton and more! The Signature Series items are made from concepts the players have with their own personal touches and tweaks along the development cycle. In addition to Signature Series player items, we also have team items such as our Air Assault Factory, TMG and other branded headbands and wraps. These items have been wildly successful for us and have help to gain us a lot of new customers with some great concepts!
T: So where does Todd Martinez have a connection to this?
Aaron: As the owner of Raza, Todd works with us to make sure our products are the highest possibly quality. We also get the inside track on their great new products such as the new XJ jersey and the new hoodie. We also have them working on a new project for us, which we’re very excited about! Todd, Carlos, Josh and the rest of the Raza crew have been great to work with over the years and we couldn’t be happier to work with the best custom apparel company in the game!
T: You have some of the best in your corner, that’s pretty tight. Hopefully next year you’ll have a little more time to play.
Aaron: That’s the plan! With some of the events we hope to attend, both John and myself would love to sneak away to put some paint to face (laughs).
T: Yeah man! Can’t let everyone else have all the fun. Does Todd even play still at all? I’ve always wondered.
Aaron: Ya, I speak with Todd or Carlos at Raza at least once a week it seems haha. They get out every couple of weeks and play some woodsball together as the whole Raza crew. Makes me wish I lived out there sometimes, we only get about 5-6 months of solid playing up here in Minnesota.
T: That’s cool to know. Man that Cali weather is great, I feel bad for everyone not in a warm weather state. I used to live in Colorado and Massachusetts, I couldn’t take it anymore.
Aaron: Ya man, if it wasn’t for top notch indoor places here I don’t know what dudes would do half the year.
T: It’s very top notch, so great to see something like that. You still shooting photos of skateboarding and BMX too?
Aaron: Ya man, trying to find a Monday to Friday gig so I can start doing more photography on the weekends. As with paintball there are some grade A indoor skateparks here as well. I’ve met a lot of really nice people in a short time doing it and I’m excited to see what the future holds with that!
T: I found it interesting to see you in there. I used to skateboard before paintball. How’d you get into that?
Aaron: A buddy of mine named Jake King is real passionate about BMX and joked one day I should come shoot some stuff with him and see if I liked doing it. Needless to say I had a great time and he and I have hooked up a few times to do some sessions along with some other riders and friends of his. I also had a chance to meet Dustin Grice who is a pro rider and owner of the RIDE brand, he’s a great guy and does a lot to give back to the sport he loves including owning an indoor park here as well.
T: Nice, you never know you’re gonna meet. You think eventually you’ll branch out to that side of “action sports”.
Aaron: I can’t really give a straight answer on that honestly, I try and keep my options open. It’s hard to find the level of passion that people in action sports have, and I’m rapidly finding that I’m in love with capturing those moments behind the lens of my camera. I’d love to make it on my own as a photographer, but you never know what life is going to put in front of you, ya know?
T: Definitely. So these recent off season team changes, what’s your opinion on that? I don’t know how much you pay attention to team changes.
Aaron: I think Ronnie going back to Heat was the most shocking to me coupled with AJ Lawhead hanging it up for good. I’ve always loved Aftershock personally and always want them to do well, I just wish they could get that solid squad in place and stop having rebuild seasons. I see X-factor made a few moves to add in players that fulfilled roles they were missing or weak in, I think they’ll have a big year come 2017.
T: Don’t forget Clint Johnson to X-factor too, that just got posted today. Honestly, I didn’t see any of this coming and I’m at X-factor 7 days a week. I’m curious to know how Ronnie got back on Heat though, I definitely think he deserves it. Shock however, I was an Aftershock fan ten years ago and it sucks to see them not excel. They had some nail biters at cup too which was good but not enough.
Aaron: Ya, Clint leaving AC is interesting but I think AC will still do just fine under Pauley. I have a sneaking suspicion Heat is losing the Russian players for one reason or another, but who knows if I’m even in the right ballpark on that guess (laughs). The off-season never disappoints with drama and it’s off to a great start already!
T: That’s the second time I’ve heard about the Russians leaving Heat. I’m loving these changes so far, it’s the best one I’ve ever witnessed. Do you have any predictions in the off season at all? I’ve read a few good ones on PbNation.
Aaron: I’d like to see X-factor place top 3 overall and win an event or two. I’d bet AC: wins an event this year and Thunder takes a Cinderella story win too.
T: That would be cool to see. I’m gonna go ahead and be biased, X-factor should definitely win an event. I hope I get a raise mentioning that (laughs).
Aaron: (Laughs) those sides are so close so often I think it has to happen sooner or later.
T: AC definitely got the capabilities for sure but I’ve been watching X-factor play Impact all season long and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be winning. Is there anyone you’d like to thank?
Aaron: John “Franky” Frank for starting Midwest Clothing and giving me the opportunity to help grow the brand. Todd Martinez, Carlos “BIGG LOS” Sanchez and Josh Allen at Raza for all their help and assistance in growing our product offerings and assisting with design work when we need it. Nolan Stoer at Exalt for providing top notch service to a small company and seeing the potential we have. Lastly (certainly not least) my wife for putting up with my ass and all the late nights and secluded time in our basement working on designs, orders and handling any business related issues as they arise.
Lastly be sure to use the promo code”pblife” on the Midwest Clothing website. Discount is good til Feb 28th for 20% off all purchases.