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Story #88HomageColumbus, OH

It’s not just about a brand, it’s about doing more to inspire people. I think that’s very much about ‘paying homage.’

Ryan Vesler was a student at Ohio University when he walked into the university’s bookstore one day and none of the clothing interested him. Vesler realized there was a market for collegiate apparel that was also “cool” – a quality he defines as a combination of the right fabric, graphics and story. In 2007, he founded Homage, a clothing line that seeks to recreate great moments through graphics, connecting people to moments in history that matter to them.

Vesler knows a thing or two about what makes a good t-shirt – he began browsing thrift stores at age 12, developing his eye for quirky, unique and one-of-a-kind vintage clothing. Homage started with collegiate t-shirts but has since expanded to the worlds of sports and pop culture, with designs revolving around the concepts of respect, authenticity and storytelling.

One challenge for Vesler has been learning when and how to step back and let other people take control. For example, he hired his best friend Jason as the company’s president. “Any leader’s goal should be to find people who are more talented at certain things, while the leader should focus only on what they’re really good at,” says Vesler. “As a creative director, a lot of energy gets spent on smaller things. The more we grow, that energy needs to be focused on grander plans and building for the future.”

Those plans for the future include expanding into more of a lifestyle brand and developing a content portion of their website to reach a broader audience through video and creative content. Homage is using their platform to help share other people’s stories as well, particularly nonprofit organizations. “We partner with nonprofits and help them use clothing as another vehicle to raise awareness around an issue,” says Vesler.

“I’ve realized we’re able to use our platform to do good in the world.”

 

Photos by Shaul Schwarz

  • Owner Ryan Vesler at the Homage office and warehouse.

  • Homage t-shirt graphics at the company’s office and warehouse.

  • Ryan Vesler, owner of Homage, at the company’s warehouse. “One of the challenges every entrepreneur has is taking a step back and appreciating the growth that’s been made,” he says.

  • Ryan Vesler and his dad in his office. Vesler recalls showing his dad one of his designs and his response was, “Who the hell would buy that?” Says Vesler, “I think a lot of times when people tell me no, I’m more inclined to prove them wrong.”

  • The bulletin board in Homage owner Ryan Vesler’s office.

  • A Homage team member in the company’s warehouse.

  • Ryan Vesler, owner of Homage, at the Columbus, Ohio retail location. “In building a brand with an interesting voice,” says Vesler, “I realized we have a platform to tell stories that extend outside of the sports world, and enter the philanthropic world.”

  • A team member models a shirt and hat at the Homage store in Columbus, Ohio. Owner Ryan Vesler is working on expanding beyond the world of graphic t-shirts to be more of a lifestyle brand.

  • Jessica Johnson at the Homage store in Columbus, Ohio.

  • The Homage store in Columbus, Ohio, is one of three retail locations. There are two stores in Columbus, one in Cincinnati and one soon-to-be opened in Cleveland.

  • Homage team members packing merchandise at the company’s office and warehouse.

  • Homage team members work on graphics at the company’s office. The small business originally started with collegiate apparel but has since expanded to sports and pop culture, with an emphasis on nostalgia and storytelling.

  • Ryan Vesler, owner of Homage, in his office. A turning point for Vesler was in 2009, when he sent NBA host Ernie Johnson one of his shirts and Johnson mentioned his website on-air. Says Vesler, “It was the affirmation to me that if you take chances, insane, crazy, wild things happen.”

  • Ryan Vesler, owner of Homage, at the company’s office and warehouse. While he was a student at Ohio University, Vesler felt that there was a void in the marketplace for cool collegiate apparel.

  • Homage team members compare shades of red with a t-shirt graphic. Owner Ryan Vesler says that as the business has grown, he has had to learn to take a step back from certain aspects of the business, “allowing people we’ve hired to execute great work, and for me to oversee them and make sure that they’re producing according to the vision that I have.”

  • Homage t-shirts on the production line in Columbus, Ohio. Owner Ryan Vesler started perusing thrift stores at the age of 12, developing a keen eye for vintage clothing and what makes a good t-shirt - the fabric, the graphic and the story.

  • The Homage “Wall of Fame” in their office and warehouse in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 2007 by Ryan Vesler, Homage is an apparel brand known for t-shirts that recreate moments in sports and pop culture history through graphics that tell a story.

Business Details

Proprietor: Ryan Vesler
783 N High St. Columbus, OH 43215
PH: 614-706-4254 / Website
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