After making waves in the national music scene, Rochester native Chris DeWerd has his eye on design. This local entrepreneur officially launched his clothing brand business GONE a few months ago to bring modern, high-quality clothing to the city.
DeWerd’s journey to the big stage began back in 1999. While attending the ninth grade at Mayo High School his band, Mr. Completely, won a contest to open for a Minneapolis punk rock group, called Flipp. Four years later, Mr. Completely signed a record deal with major label Capitol Records.
“We got real lucky, basically. We played the high school homecomings and stuff in town before that and the pool halls back then,” DeWerd laughed.
After the record deal, the group rebranded as The F-Ups and toured the country for two years, playing with names like Papa Roach and making appearances on the Vans Warped Tour. The band was best known for their song “Lazy Generation,” which appeared on two video games: NHL 2005 and Burnout 3: Takedown.
After moving to Las Vegas in 2006, The F-Ups broke up. After the disbandment, DeWerd stayed in the Vegas area to pursue a degree in music business. Eight years ago, he returned home to Rochester with his girlfriend and her daughter, seeking a better education system for the young girl.
Although DeWerd spent much of his young adulthood in music, he’s always had an interest in clothing and design.
“When I was younger…I would patch the word ‘GONE’ on all my clothing,” he explained.
DeWerd enjoyed cutting letter designs out from one shirt and sewing them onto another to create something new and fresh. During his early youth, he even had experience printing shirts for his father’s band.
“I thought that was so cool that you would just take a plan black T-shirt and some logo and once you put it together, it was like magic,” he said. “You had this whole new thing that was cool all of a sudden with very little effort.”
Prior to launching the clothing brand, DeWerd created his own shirt designs, posting the images on his Instagram account and YouTube channel. After operating in this manner for some time, he bought a sewing machine, taught himself how to sew, and officially launched GONE as a business this past December.
Now, DeWerd designs everything for GONE on his computer, presses the images onto the shirts himself, and sews on the tags. As a solo entrepreneur, he’s learning by doing. Besides teaching himself the essential sewing skills needed for his business, DeWerd is also learning web design and running his own social media marketing.
While GONE has a website, DeWerd does most of his sales directly to consumers through Instagram and Facebook messaging.
To distinguish himself from other clothing brands, he’s also developed a deeper meaning for GONE, encouraging people to “be the best you” or be one of the “Great Ones” (GONE) while wearing his T-shirts, tanks, and jackets.
Now, DeWerd is raising awareness of the brand and getting more people to experience the look and feel of the product. He’s showcasing GONE clothing at several local events, including the Minnesota Disc Golf Tournament in Stewartville in May and the Salute to the 4th in July. Consumers can also find the shirts at the Melting Clock Smoke Shop right in Rochester.
DeWerd spent a lot of time and effort finding the highest quality materials for GONE. Besides elevating awareness of the clothing, he now is also creating more customized and unique products.
To keep your eye on the newest GONE merch, check them out on Instagram @gone_inc.