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Saturday, April 20, 2024

UC Davis students discuss their unique clothing brand, we2cow

Founders Brianna Romine and Ian Gomez share how the company got its start, the way it’s run and where it’s going

 

By YASMEEN O’BRIEN — features@theaggie.org

 

         You’ve probably seen their iconic cow design adorning Davis students’ attire and accessories for sale at the Davis Street Market or stocked in various shops downtown. Local clothing brand we2cow has quickly risen to fame in Davis and become an established part of the community. Founded by high school sweethearts Brianna Romine and Ian Gomez, the company is turning heads with its original Davis-themed merchandise.

         Their first inspiration came in 2021 during Gomez’s first year at UC Davis. It began with a simple shopping trip. Gomez was looking for UC Davis clothing at the bookstore on campus but found nothing creative beyond the classic logo. Plus, the price point was too high to spend on something he probably wouldn’t end up wearing very much.

Around this time, Romine was fortuitously gifted an embroidery machine despite not having experience with the craft. Soon after Gomez’s experience at the bookstore, they decided to sketch a couple of Davis designs and embroider a sweatshirt for him. 

“The intention was just for Ian to have an original piece that he genuinely liked,” Romine, a fourth-year psychology major, said. “And to take advantage of my embroidery machine.” 

The cow graphic, designed by Gomez, was on this first sweatshirt. When he started wearing it around town, people complimented him and asked where he bought it. Gomez and Romine began making clothing with the cow image for friends by request, but when they started the we2cow Instagram account and began selling their creations at local markets, the company quickly gained popularity.

They attribute a large part of their success to a “Valentine’s Day Giveaway” where they had people follow a series of directions to get to know the brand through their social media account and get them excited about the possibility of winning. 

It increased their Instagram following by 1,000 and their orders grew to over 100 at one time. Romine recalled people arriving early at the Davis Street Market to secure a we2cow item before she and Gomez even had a chance to set up their vending table and hang up their pieces. 

“It was really sought after in the beginning. It was a little bit overwhelming.” Romine said.

Romine transferred to UC Davis in the fall of 2022, so in the beginning, she was embroidering everything back in San Diego — where she and Gomez grew up — and would either ship the merchandise to Gomez or fly out to Davis and fill her suitcase with we2cow items.

Part of we2cow’s draw is the originality and creativity that comes with the brand’s designs. 

“99% of the time we made it ourselves,” Gomez, a fourth-year biological systems engineering major, said. “Well, Bri’s the one who made everything. I usually do the design and social media, and Bri’s the one who does all the manual labor.”

As the company grew and would have to fill 100 or 200 orders at a time, the duo had to supplement production by getting their designs embroidered somewhere else. Gomez shares that this is a very recent decision, with their merchandise now being sold in stores such as The Davis Creamery and the Avid Reader bookstore downtown. They say it’s hard to keep up sometimes given that they are full-time university students.

“Ian and I, at the beginning of all of this, said: ‘We’re students first before anything,’” Romine said. “So it’s really hard for me to find the time.” 

Each sweatshirt, shirt or hat can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour when Romine does it herself. She recounted a hectic time selling their designs at Davis’ Whole Earth Festival. 

“Ian would leave from the actual event to come back [to their home] just to make more stuff so we would have enough [to sell].,” Romine said. 

Romine said that in preparation for the event they had three embroidery machines going “24/7” and would run between them alternating items to make sure they were maximizing their time and making the most apparel they could.

Before we2cow, the couple had started a different clothing brand with original designs, but it was much less successful. We2cow allowed them to reach many more people with their art. 

“It felt good to create something that had some sort of impact,” Gomez said. 

Romine agreed and furthered his sentiment. 

“I think the main thing is that we wanted to put something out there that was unique to Davis, and that we genuinely liked,” Romine said. “We hoped that other people would like it too.”

“I enjoy when people come up to us and tell us they genuinely like the design and show us we’ve made an impact,” Romine said. 

She continued that people commonly buy we2cow items as gifts for their loved ones, especially for family or friends back home since their designs represent the town and school of Davis.

UC Davis Alumnus Andrew Bass appreciated the company’s hard work and recognized the influence it’s had over the school and town. 

“We2cow has impacted Davis by being an example of that alternative culture that Davis is so rooted in: they offer student-made one-of-a-kind merchandise,” Bass said. “Wearing and seeing their merchandise outside of Davis brings me such a sense of pride. I live in San Francisco now and wear my stuff from them all the time.”

Gomez and Romine will be graduating and leaving Davis at the end of 2024 and are unsure how or if the business will continue once they graduate. 

“We don’t really know what’s in store, but I think we both just hope for the business to grow as much as possible,” Romine said. 

“I think we’re limited because it’s a product very specific to Davis,” Gomez said.

Regardless of its future, we2cow has allowed them to make connections with fellow student creatives, impact a wide range of Davis residents and serve as an essential part of the art scene in our community.

Those who want to see more of the brand can find we2cow on Saturdays at the Davis Street Market, on their Etsy shop, at The Davis Creamery and Avid Reader or follow their Instagram page, @we2cow, for more information. 

 

Written by: Yasmeen O’Brien — features@theaggie.org

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