You too could do this! But only if you have the extraordinary creative vision these guys had. “Clothing with a sense of humor” is what owner Randy Smith calls the look. Hip resort lifestyle fashion from entrepreneurial West Michigan business duo still makes waves after all these years.
Pop art, bicycles, dogs, beach prints and graphics like “Unsalted” (referencing the cult video about Lake Michigan surf culture), the designs are artisanally hand-screened onto hoodies, T-shirts, sweatshirts, dresses, pajamas, accessories and wall art, and are all the rage, simply collectible and make incredible gifts.
And recently Marüshka’s legendary signature framed canvases from the 70s and 80s have enjoyed a revival among college students in-the-know, reappearing in stores like Urban Outfitters. The company’s archives of hand-cut films dates back 40 years with vintage wall art prints. But in their heyday, those Marüshka framed prints were instantly recognizable and omni-present in hotels, apartments, hospitals, offices and boutiques all over America.
This is the uniquely amazing entrepreneurial Marüshka story: Deciding to make some real cash, Marüshka was founded and named after his wife in 1971, by a high school art teacher named Richard Sweet, in a Lake Michigan resort town, Grand Haven, Michigan. Enterprising partner and former student Randy Smith saw the light and joined Sweet in 1974. He was first a maker, then became the company’s first salesman, selling out of his station wagon all the way to Florida. Rags to riches, the company sells over $2 million now.
Local mid-century innovators like Herman Miller and Steelcase recognized Sweet’s talent at the outset, forming design collaborations and featuring their work at innovative office furniture Chicago mega-trade show, NeoCon. Sweet also designed panels for the Citicorp building’s cafeteria in New York City, and reprinted iconic Alexander Girard designs on textiles. Together he and Randy built this business into the entrepreneurial and FUN powerhouse it is today, producing millions of products.
Michigan Rag was born in the late 80s to refocus and extend the brand in apparel and accessories. Today, Randy and his wife Karen work together downstairs, and live-entertain in a colorful apartment above the fabulous Marüshka boutique. Randy is a leader not only in business but in the bustling local art scene.
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