Baron Fork Outfitters celebrates first anniversary

BY KENLEA HENSON
Former Reporter
01/12/2018 08:15 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Brothers and Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre own Baron Fork Outfitters, an outdoor clothing brand inspired by nature and local destinations in Oklahoma. It opened in January 2017 and has flourished into an outdoor brand. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Baron Fork Outfitters’ most popular design is the bear (yona in Cherokee) T-shirt, displayed here with the brand’s signature mountain design cap and bear design koozie. Baron Fork Outfitters is an outdoor clothing brand owned by Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Baron Fork Outfitters’ newest designs are the scissortail T-shirt and cup and bass design cap. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Baron Fork Outfitters display some of its outdoor designed T-shirts at a Christmas bazar on Dec. 16 in Stilwell, Oklahoma. The company offers various colors, designs and styles of clothing and other items. It is an outdoor clothing brand owned by Cherokee Nation citizens Cody Killer and Dakota St. Pierre. KENLEA HENSON/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – January 2018 marked one year in business for two brothers with a dream to start a clothing brand that expresses their love for the outdoors and represents their roots.

Cody Killer, 26, and Dakota St. Pierre, 19, named their brand Baron Fork Outfitters.

The Cherokee Nation citizens and brothers grew up in Stilwell and appreciate being outdoors and engaging in outdoor activities. But it was spending time on Baron Fork Creek that inspired the brand’s name.

“It brings back memories of summers from our childhood we spent with family fishing and swimming in the Baron Fork Creek. It was a big part of our childhood to go and spend family time at there,” Killer said. “And when Dakota presented the name to me I thought this was a pretty sweet name, a name that people from around here would recognize. And for the people that don’t, it sounds like a pretty cool name.”

The idea of starting a T-shirt brand developed more than a year before they launched the company in 2017. Killer said getting the name really got the “ball rolling.” The goal was to create a brand that captures northeast Oklahoma’s beauty as well as the area’s significance to which locals could identify.

“A lot of this is about local recognition. Obviously starting out we aren’t expecting to go big, so we weren’t worrying about other people buying it out of (Adair) county. We really wanted to build it up for the locals,” St. Pierre said.

They designed their first T-shirt after the place that inspired the brand, with a hint of “humor.”

“We wanted our first design to be our signature design, which has the Baron Fork Creek with the old railroad bridge above it. But we also added mountains in the background. A lot of people kind of pointed it out, but we did it as a joke because almost everyone around this area either lives on or near a mountain like Rocky Mountain, Spade Mountain, Killer Mountain, Jackson Mountain. So the mountains represent that,” Killer said.

With name and design in place, printing the shirts was next. But buying equipment and materials to print their shirts wasn’t feasible for the young entrepreneurs, so after saving money they used a relative’s printing business in Tulsa.

However, the brand didn’t take off until its public debut at Stilwell’s annual Strawberry Festival in May. The brothers offered one design in four colors as a test run and sold about 140 shirts.

In a short time, Baron Fork Outfitters went from offering one design to offering 10. The most popular is the “yona” design, which means bear in Cherokee.

St. Pierre said adding Cherokee elements to designs is another way they represent their background. “We wanted to be able to express our Cherokee heritage through the business because that’s a big part of who we are and the area we grew up in.”

In addition to offering T-shirt designs, Baron Fork Outfitters offers beanies, hats, tank tops, long- and short-sleeve shirts and items such as campfire mugs and cups.

“Realistically everything we make from this we turn right around and put it back into new stuff because it hasn’t been about making a profit but more about expanding and making the best products possibly and more affordable for everyone,” Killer said.

Along with receiving positive feedback from locals, Baron Fork Outfitters is grabbing attention beyond the area.

“I go to school at OU (University of Oklahoma) and people are like ‘whoa what’s that shirt? I want to buy it.’ And even through our Etsy page we have received orders from other states. So with the popularity we are gaining we can expand into other markets and offer more outdoor designs as a whole, but still be under the same name that started it all,” St. Pierre said.

Killer said they are going to introduce more clothing items and designs this year, some featuring collaborations with local artists Hilary Hume and Daylon Diver.

“A big part of what we are trying to do is support other locals, too. So coming up with a design and asking artists to draw the artwork for our shirts is a way to promote them and get their name out there too,” he said. “Hilary has been working on two designs. She completed one and is going to represent an area of Oklahoma (where) a lot of people will know what it means. So we are really excited.”

Although Baron Fork Outfitters doesn’t have an official store the brothers sell their products from a Stilwell tax office, but want to offer products to local stores. Eventually they hope to own a Baron Fork Outfitters store equipped with their clothing and supplies.

“It was everything we hoped for and more. As with any business, we, of course, are looking to expand, but we could not be happier with where we are today,” Killer said.

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