Bandanas Built for Adventure: Meet Roko Sinovcic and Josh Stoneman
Roko and Josh, the founders of Mister Bandana, are two guys with a simple dream: to create eye-popping, exciting bandanas that are 100% made in the USA.
Who are the founders of Mister Bandana?
Mister Bandana was founded by Roko Sinovcic and Josh Stoneman, in the kitchen of our East Village apartment in NYC, back in 2018. We survived launching a business together in our studio apartment. Since then we've moved to an office and showroom on 30th and Broadway, near the Garment District, where our hemmer and some of our printers are located. We're passionate about working with local artisans in the Garment District!
When and why did you get into designing your bandanas?
We both have always loved bandanas. Our friends used to make fun of us for wearing them 24/7. One day we decided to make our own bandanas - how hard could it be? (Actually a lot harder than we thought). We signed up for night classes in screen-printing at SVA, and learned the basics. And then we expanded to different types of cotton, different types of printing that resulted in different hand feel of the fabric, and different hems. We built our website and sold our first bandana in 2018, and just kept going. We now have customers in all 50 states and we're in hundreds of stores across the country! We basically design bandanas that we'd like to wear ourselves, and luckily they resonate with people all over.
Where does your design process start?
We start the design process with an old-fashioned mood board. For example, we wanted to create some Great Outdoors themed bandana designs, so we put together a mood board of vintage deer and duck illustrations, Field & Stream covers, hunting lodge interiors, and then sent it to our designer to translate these elements into a bandana. We find that classic, traditional bandana designs do well - a symmetrical square, with a border and radial central elements. But instead of paisley, we add unexpected design elements.
We still have our day jobs, so we run the bandana business on nights and weekends. Our day jobs - environmental scientist and technology consultant - keep us extremely efficient and good at project management (in other words, we don't get a lot of sleep!). Luckily we both have a creative side too, which is what fuels Mister Bandana - we both have artistic tendencies, which is the passion behind this business. We really love watching a new design come to life, and then find its way to a customer in a far-flung location - that's the best feeling, seeing someone on Instagram hiking in a forest or desert, wearing one of our bandanas.
Do you have a favorite product from your collections?
Josh is a nature buff, so he likes anything from our Great Outdoors collection - especially "Old School Duck," which is a classic western bandana with a mallard duck motif. Roko's favorite is our Tarzan bandana, called "Jacked Lion," which was designed by his dad! Roko's dad is an accomplished artist, and in the 80's he painted movie posters and book covers in his native Croatia (former Yugoslavia) - including the bloody fight between Tarzan and a muscular lion, which we turned into the "Jacked Lion" bandana.
Where do you see Mister Bandana in the future? Any cool plans or projects in the works?
Our dream is to open a store in NYC! We love having people come into our showroom and discover our bandanas, so we'd love to open a storefront and invite the public to experience Mister Bandana in person. Right now we're really excited about collaborations - we're rolling out a bunch of new ones. We love connecting with talented artists and creators, and mixing creative juices. We have awesome collabs with a jewelry designer in Texas, a Native American artist in Arizona, and a former NFL player who's now a healer and yoga shaman. We're really proud of our collaboration with the Hetrick Martin Institute, which provides services to LGBTQ+ youth in our hometown of NYC. We sponsored a design contest with their student artists, and the designs were fantastic! We sell them as fundraisers for this organization, which makes us very happy to be able to give back to our community. Stay tuned for more exciting collabs!
Follow Mister Bandana on Instagram: @misterbandana
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