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Brandon Herbel plants Make Believe clothing company, studio in Omaha

Brandon Herbel of Make Believe Studio. Photo courtesy of Brandon Herbel.

The generation of an idea, a thorough business plan and acquiring capital are three components that most aspiring entrepreneurs adopt when looking to launch their own business. But for one Omaha resident, a love for creativity, a passion for community and the United States’ largest offshore oil spill was enough to launch his own clothing company and inspire others to “Believe.”

Brandon Herbel launched Make Believe Clothing Co. from the corner of his bedroom in October 2009, primarily designing Americana-themed t-shirts.

“Design and fashion are constantly changing, which forces me to grow,” Herbel said. “Starting and owning my own business all started from looking at how things were done and how it could be done better.”

After releasing his clothing line this April, Herbel eventually moved into an old recording studio, formerly known as Baseline Recording Studio, located at 805 Hickory Street, and launched Make Believe Studio – a design, recording and clothing business.

Herbel started the studio with former clients turned friends Rick Carsen and Jeremy Deaton, both record producers, and Michael Gergen, who serves as their manager.

“We all have the same goals and want to succeed in our business, but also try to give back to the community we live in,” Herbel said (left, photo courtesy of Herbel). “Whether that’s by supporting local musicians and artists, doing charitable events or just giving Omaha quality design and marketing services…we are still getting everything figured out.”

Herbel is certain about one thing, though.

“Omaha is the only place I want to be,” he said. “I hope to use my skills to bring a new look on advertising and design, something I feel Nebraska and the Midwest in general is lacking.”

Omaha, however, wasn’t his first rest stop.

After a semester at the Art Institute of Colorado in Denver in 2003, Herbel dropped out and moved to Omaha to pursue his passion for graphic design.

“I do see the importance of going to college but [it] just wasn’t for me,” he said. “Being in debt for something I already knew how to do didn’t make sense to me.”

Herbel spent about four years doing freelance work, but left to pursue a job at Squad, a Seattle-based creative design and development studio, as a lead designer.

After spending a year in Seattle, Herbel came to the conclusion that he wanted to move back to Omaha and start Make Believe.

“Working in a full-service design studio in a tech city like Seattle really helped me see what I could do with my talents,” he said. “Working on projects big and small, having that hands-on experience with clients and just the overall problem solving and psychology of it made me realize this is what I want to do.”

While the record-producing side of the Make Believe business has worked with clients, such as the Omaha-based indie/folk-pop band Bear County, as well as some Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award-winning musicians, Herbel has yet to land any local clients.

Herbel’s clothing line, however, has made sales across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. His line has also been spotted on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno (above, photo courtesy of Herbel) and has been featured as InStyle Magazine UK’s “Look of the Day” on October 11. Twilight starlet Kristen Stewart styled the Make Believe look in both instances.

While this has boosted sales and recognition, Make Believe is all about giving back to the community.

All proceeds from Herbel’s recently released shirt “Believe,” for example, will go toward helping the animals affected by the BP oil spill.

Three dollars of each shirt is donated and about $500 has been raised so far, he said.

“I wanted to try and take my talents and what I know to give back to help those animals affected,” Herbel said. “This is something I want to carry on to several future projects that are focused on helping make changes in our world, whether it be in my local community or the world as a whole.”

Along with helping the community, Herbel also hopes to utilize a local print facility, as well as ship and package orders himself by the time he launches his next line.

“I really want focus on having a bigger hand in the clothing line,” he said. “I’d love to expand my business into a bigger studio and possibly a retail store, but only time will tell.”

Omaha’s talent and entrepreneurial growth make it the perfect place to start.

(Make Believe Studio located at 805 Hickory Street. Photo by Andrea Ciurej.)

“It’s great to see young designers like Secret Penguin, What Cheer and the CAMP crew making a living and being successful at what we do,” Herbel said. “It’s good to see people trying to keep the money within their community.”

To see more of Herbel’s work, visit makebelievestudio.net.

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