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By Emily Clingman-Johnson
Suzanne Akin has found her wings.
Stirred by a picture several years ago, Akin had an idea.
“The picture was of a wakeboarder doing a trick,” Akin explained. “It looked like she was flying.”
She developed a motto: Find your wings.
“Find something that motivates you and gets you going,” she said. “Just jump! Go for it. You’ll figure it out on your way down.”
Akin, a fashion designer, has incorporated that motto into her latest line of clothing and accessories: AKINZ, geared toward the snow/skate/surf/bike crowd.
Most of her items – acid wash hoodies, paint splashed tank tops, and original screen-printed t-shirts – sport her signature wing logo on them.
“I design all of my clothes. I make all the jewelry and beanies by hand,” Akin said. “I recently got my own printing press so I can do everything myself.”
In mid-May, Akin debuted a new workshop and showroom for her designs. It’s a far cry from her original life plan. After graduating with a double major in fashion design and French from the University of Texas in 2003, Akin planned on moving to France to be a fashion designer.
“Well,” Akin laughed, “That didn’t happen.”
She decided to stay in Austin, but there weren’t a lot of fashion design jobs so she jumped into retail management, then restaurant management. In her spare time, she did a lot of wakeboarding. Then she realized that there was an opportunity to design clothes in the outdoor sports industry.
“People get that here in Colorado,” she said, “But it took me a bit to catch on to that in Texas.”
Akin gradually moved away from designing cocktail dresses and toward more casual, sporty designs. She also accompanied some friends on a snowboarding trip to Colorado and fell in love.
“My parents hate cold weather,” she said, “so all of our vacations were to the beach.”
Things started coming together for Akin in a way she hadn’t planned. Upon returning to Texas after her snowboarding experience, her employer went out of business and the lease on her apartment was about to expire. She thought, “Why not?” and moved out here to explore some new territory.
While working and playing in Steamboat for a while, she had one t-shirt printed up. It became popular, so she made more.
It wasn’t until she moved to Fort Collins that she decided to expand into a professional space.
“I had been operating out of a spare bedroom in my condo,” she said. “It just wasn’t working anymore.”
AKINZ garb can mainly be found online, but some local shops are carrying a few items, including The Wright Life, White Balcony and Killer Rabbit. Akin recently landed a deal with Copper Mountain to provide clothing for summer camp kids.
“That’s super exciting because these kids come from all over the country and will be taking my logo back with them,” Akin said.
Also, be on the lookout for original AKINZ Bike-To-Work Day shirts, which were released June 22. They can be ordered online and delivered via bicycle to your door by an AKINZ representative. How cool is that?
To view the AKINZ clothing line, go to akinz.com, or visit the showroom, located at 432 South Link Lane, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-6pm.