Name changes: SMASH becomes RAYGUN, 8/7 Central

Last Friday, Des Moines’ creative class success story, SMASH, announced that they were changing names and dividing their clothing store from the web design and screen printing business. The store is now RAYGUN (Twitter: RAYGUNshirts) and the custom design business is now 8/7 Central (Twitter: 87Central) Mike Draper, founder of the two businesses, answered a few…

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Last Friday, Des Moines’ creative class success story, SMASH, announced that they were changing names and dividing their clothing store from the web design and screen printing business. The store is now RAYGUN (Twitter: RAYGUNshirts) and the custom design business is now 8/7 Central (Twitter: 87Central)

Mike Draper, founder of the two businesses, answered a few questions for SPN on the change:

SPN: Why did you decide to change the name?

Mike: Well, there was another company in California named SMASH that was pretty litigious when it came to other folks using the name SMASH. That’s reason number one, but a second reason is that there was another store in LA and one in NYC named SMASH, and though they hadn’t contacted us, I started thinking that our name in general was a little too generic, and it may get to be an issue as we try to expand.

SPN: Why not fight to keep the name?

Mike: Money and time mostly. It would be years to duke it out, and well over $100k in legal bills. I’d rather change the name, use the money and time to expand the company into other cities and across the region. I think we can do a lot more for Des Moines if we spend our money on growth and on our art scene than if we pay for some junior attorney’s first Volvo.

SPN: What’s with “Raygun”?

Mike: National Rifle Association was already taken, so we had to figure out the next best name. I wanted a name that was one word, 4 or 6 letters, spelled correctly, and lent itself well to designs. And, maybe most important was one we could get a Registration on. Raygun comes with its own logo and there is a lot more we can do with the name when it has a logo associated with it (i.e. we can buy Raygun Christmas ornaments, mugs, or toys, that though we didn’t make, will still be associated with the store).

Plus, from a more abstract standpoint, the Raygun idea has that kind of campy, retro sound that appeals to our market. It was a great idea we were going to destroy the Russians with but all it turned out to be good for was Star Trek movies.

RAYGUN

SPN: Why split the clothing store from the screen printing/web design business?

Mike: The split has actually been in the works now for about two years. The biggest reason is that they act as two separate companies even under one roof and I was getting over-extended trying to run them both at once. So it made sense to split into separate corporations, give the guys involved with the print/web design side more control, and I in turn would focus more energy on retail growth.

I think taking that strategy will keep me from smothering both sides and will thus help both sides grow a lot faster, which will in turn get more people involved down the road. Plus having two companies will mean that there will be another small shop in our neighborhood, another screen printing style, and it will help the whole scene in general.

I’m personally really excited about it since I can devote almost 100% of my time to growing the Raygun brand.

SPN: How was the name change party on 11/20?

Mike: It went really well. Almost like one of those “this is your life” talk shows. It seemed like everyone who’s ever been a good friend of ours or associated with the store came by to see the new space and say hi. So that was nice, although after six hours my face hurt from smiling.

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