Be Oregon is a place to indulge your Oregon pedigree. In 2011, Zach Nutter and Patrick Wurtz started a simple line of T-shirts, beanies, trucker hats, scarves and phone cases that all feature slogans about the pleasures of living in Oregon. Be Oregon dress code includes the mottos “Peaks to Pints,” “Adventure Awaits,” “Resilient Beavers” and “Trust the Journey.” The starter crew T-shirt (i.e. just moved to Oregon) has symbols of pine trees, bicycles, campfires, fishing and Bigfoot. Everything reflects what it takes to get in the Oregon mindset—comfortable clothing, a good hat and a willingness to find your own path, the joys of playing outside and carrying your growler of microbrew to the top of the mountain to enjoy the sunset.
Be Oregon founders are also realists who understand the obstacles and struggle of living here. The lack of housing and industry jobs creates a gorge between success and struggle. As a result, the company donates meals to Oregon food banks for every item purchased. Nutter and Wurtz have been friend since they graduated from Bend High in 2003. They started the company with $250 in their worn jean pockets.
The company started as 541 Threads, and its tagline was 5 Fed for Every Thread. As the company grew, it became increasingly difficult and limiting to expand the brand with Central Oregon’s area code. The founders changed names and attempted a retail space, but anticipating inventory, rent and staff needs on a powder day, they opted to model a wholesale and online company.
“It’s harder for the average person to stay here—there are so few jobs to support the influx of the population,” Nutter said. “We all commit to working three part-time jobs to enjoy the time we get to play hard.”
Be Oregon’s website is filled with humorous tips on how to be a good Oregonian—where locals drink beer, funky dive spots in tiny towns and bizarre places to spend the night. Be Oregon soft tees and sweatshirts can be found at Tetherow Resort, Made In Oregon stores, Black Butte Ranch, High Desert Museum and various stores in Portland.
Balancing full-time careers in real estate and the brewing industry, Nutter and Wurtz have been able to feed more than 100,000 people through company donations.
I think of the days when I was burnt out and ready to give up. I always found energy by realizing that if I didn’t show up there might be fifty people who do not eat that day.