By Dale McGarrigle
Special to The Weekly
ELLSWORTH — Maine-themed clothing isn’t exactly a new idea; tacky garb has been turned out for tourists for decades.
However, a pair of artistic brothers in Ellsworth have come up with a new twist: Maine-themed apparel that appeals to Mainers.
That’s the idea behind Maine Street Clothing, founded in early 2012 by Nick and Christopher Sarro.
Nick, 21, had previously started a clothing line, Kabiki, while a junior at Ellsworth High School. “It was just fun designs,” he recalled.
When he decided to try a new line, he recruited his older brother Christopher, 24.
“We decided we needed more of a direction for the designs,” Nick recalled. “We came up with Maine Street Clothing, which is Maine-based things, not touristy, something that Mainers can relate to. We’ve been thinking about branching out to the groups in Maine: surfers, skaters, lumberjacks.”
The Maine Street Clothing line includes jackets, hats, socks, bags, and especially the hoodies and T-shirts designed by Christopher.
The process for a new design to be added to the line is as follows: Christopher will pencil and ink two or three designs at a time, which Nick then imports into Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop, so he can sharpen the images.
Then the brothers stick the possible designs up on the MSC Facebook page, to receive input from their (at last count) 664 friends.
“We put up five times more designs than ever appear on our Web site,” Christopher explained. “We’ll put a design up on Facebook, and it will either explode or it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s really up to our followers. We’ve seen the power of putting an image online and seeing it spread throughout the country.”
The clothing line is available at www.mainestreetclothing.com and also at Pyramid Studios, 10 State St., Ellsworth. Orders have come not only across Maine and the country, but also from overseas.
Currently the brothers, who both have day jobs, work on MSC on nights and weekends at Nick’s house, filling and shipping orders, then plowing the profits back into their business, working to build up stock as they go.
They are now making a transition from a heat press to a silk-screening press.
“More people like silk-screen shirts over heat-pressed shirts, plus we can be more creative and create more designs at a faster pace,” Nick said.
The Sarros have been negotiating to place their line in three area stores by summer.
If these talks work out, the brothers may have to consider getting bigger equipment and a larger space to house it.
“We have people that are interested in investing, and we have to keep that option open,” Christopher said. “But we’d like to be 100 percent self-sufficient, with no grants or loans, if at all possible.”