Coloradical owner began clothing design career while attending University of Northern Colorado – Greeley Tribune
A 2007 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado, Adam Sikorski was ready to lead a humble life.
He was okay with being a wanderer. In high school he was part of the punk and skateboard scene, and after college he found a house on his friend’s balcony, and later, a warehouse. He was content with the idea of ââscarcity.
His passion, however, was printmaking and t-shirt design. It started in college, when Sikorski sold his designs himself and in local Front Range stores.
At the time, clothing design was not Sikorski’s main job. It was more of a creative outlet that brought him money. Then, in 2009, Coloradical arrived.
Sikorski, 33, is the founder and owner – or as he likes to call it, âdirector of Radnessâ – of Coloradical, a Colorado-based clothing brand that emphasizes the quality of life in the state.
His storefront opened about five years ago at 3109 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver, but the brand is present in nearly 40 stores across the state, even in Greeley.
Sikorski remains the sole creator of the brand, creating everything from hats and shirts to patches. It runs around 12 different models per season, he said, keeping some of its models available year round.
Coloradical started out as a t-shirt with a pattern based on the Colorado flag, thanks to a random suggestion from Sikorski’s roommate. It was supposed to be just another design in Sikorski’s portfolio, but the T-shirt gained immediate and immense popularity. Coloradical has inevitably become a brand in its own right, and it is now approaching a decade of existence.
Coloradical didn’t happen until after Sikorski graduated from UNC, but the seeds of the business started early. In college, Sikorski noticed that when he sold his art at events, people turned to the clothes rather than the prints of his designs. It resonated with him.
âI had this deep realization that not everyone buys artwork to hang on their walls, but everyone buys t-shirts,â Sikorski said. âYou have this moving web. People ask about what you are wearing and where it is from, or if you have something on your wall at home, sometimes people won’t even be able to see it.
Sikorski grew up in Aurora, but attended UNC from 2002 to 2007. He began drawing on his clothes to illustrate his independence and angst.
In his first year, Sikorski made himself hand-stenciled shirts bearing the inscription “DRUNC” – a devious combination of drunkenness and UNC. The design was that of the old UNC bear head logo with a beer mug, he said. The shirts gained popularity among other students, who were constantly asking where they could get one.
âThere was that watershed moment where I was like, ‘OK, maybe there’s something in there,'” he said.
Sikorski eventually studied for a year at California State University-San Bernardino, where he was introduced to screen printing. When Sikorski returned to UNC as a senior, he was able to produce more shirt screen printing than stencil. In a way more akin to a specialization in marketing than a specialization in art, he sold his DRUNC shirts printed at college parties. He would fill a backpack with his shirts and sell them to drunk college kids. He soon realized that the business model was not quite working.
âMost people liked the shirts, but they didn’t have the money to pay for them because they usually spent it to buy the beer they drank,â he said.
After much trial (and error), Sikorski found that selling his merchandise in local stores was the most effective. He released around three designs a month under his name before Coloradical hit the ground running in 2009. He found that posting items without a specific brand name proved to be a difficult task. People did not know where or how to buy her clothes.
âIt was a learning experience for me,â he said. “Coloradical was coming out of it, and it’s something much more memorable, and something that felt like a more cohesive long-term project.”
The Coloradians take great pride in their condition, which is why Sikorski thinks his designs have been so successful – people really and truly love him here, he said – just like him.
âOne thing I recognize now is if you’re from (Colorado) you like it, but you don’t understand how awesome it is until you go somewhere else,â Sikorski said. “Then you get a clearer picture of how awesome it is.”
Until four years ago, Sikorski hand-printed every t-shirt he made. There was a time, he recalls, when he did about 500 in a week, which took about 90 hours of his time.
âThat’s when I said, ‘This is it, it’s time for a new business model,’â he said. âSo I contacted a local print shop. â¦ After someone printed the shirts for me, I had more time to run this business that I started.
Sikorski didn’t fully immerse himself in the business right away – he said his time was spent between “making t-shirts and making pizza”. But Coloradical became so popular that it was able to make it his full-time job. Sikorski said he never had any help from investors, but instead took all the money he made from his shirts and put it back into the business.
Eventually it became more than profitable. He hopes the brand will continue to grow steadily.
âNow, looking back in college, I was basically running the early days of this business,â Sikorski said. âIt’s a very DIY and homemade project that I was lucky to have enough people to support it. “
* Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect a correction. Adam Sikorski was introduced to screen printing, a form of printmaking, at California State University-San Bernardino. This story has been updated to reflect this.