From his very first beer at the local pub in San Luis Obispo, California, Doug Barden knew he never wanted to leave. But just after he had bought a house and settled into the small, welcoming community, his job transferred him to Lafayette, Louisiana. There, he found a town full of local pride that reminded him of San Luis Obispo. When he wandered into a local store that sold what he calls “hyper local apparel,” he saw his ticket back to favorite place and out of the corporate world.
Barden convinced the owners of that store to become his business partners as he opened up a similar one in San Luis Obispo. Now he runs SLOFLY, an apparel store where locals can show their pride by wearing hoodies, t-shirts and hats emblazoned with the store’s name.
SCORE mentor Scott Hillis helped Barden from the time he first conceived of the store until the grand opening over a year later (when they finally met face-to-face). Barden advises others thinking about seeking mentoring through SCORE to “just tell them what you need and they will find a way to make it happen. They WANT you to succeed almost as much as you do.”
Barden offers this advice to potential small business owners: "Listen to your heart not your mind. Your mind will try and sabotage you every step of the way. If you know in your heart your business idea is solid and believe in it then push through the pain. There is magic on the other side.”
SLOFLY celebrated their grand opening in September 2017. Since then, the store has been so popular that Barden says it has been challenging just to keep the merchandise on the shelves.