I had the pleasure of meeting Derek and Kari Beth Chitwood a couple days before Christmas. Peach State Pride had been on my radar for some time, so I was excited to see their operation(s) up close and personal.
The day we met there seemed to be a sense of relief in the offices…almost like a giant exhale. See, the Christmas order deadline had been the day before, so the madness was effectively over. Peach State Pride is an outfit started by Derek Chitwood in 2009. Since then, they have exploded. Today, their merchandise is sold in almost 90 stores across the state, and have opened two stores of their own (more on that later).
The focus of the PSP brand is our great state of Georgia. Derek designed the peach logo, and is working to make it synonymous to Georgia, the way the palm and the crescent are synonymous with South Carolina. So far, so good. You wouldn’t believe how many shirts, hats, belts, and other Peach State Pride merchandise they move. It’s staggering.
Talking with Derek and Kari Beth is a breath of fresh air. They really seem to get it – produce a quality product, focus on the brand, and stay true to the roots. There is a level of politeness that is so refreshing, but not in the sense that they are riding the wave…they have a clear business plan and are completely aligned on where they want to take the Peach State Pride brand.
Derek was nice enough to sit down and give me a little history:
When did Peach State Pride start? I created the logo in February of 2009; the website launched in October 2010, and we got in our first retail store around Christmas of 2010. We’re currently sold in 88 stores across the state and have two stores of our own in Watkinsville, GA and Lavonia, GA.
What is the inspiration behind Peach State Pride? Passion. I’ve always been particularly passionate about where I’m from. Not just as a Georgian, but all the way down to the community that I’m from, the schools I attended, the teams I was a part of, etc. Perhaps more than anything, I’m proud of the time that I spent with my Grandpa in his small, 3 acre peach orchard in Northeast Georgia. That’s where I spent every summer growing up and it’s hard not to feel a strong sense of ‘Georgian’ when picking peaches was such a large part of my life. Being from the Peach State has always meant a lot to me because of that background and I guess in many ways that laid the groundwork for Peach State Pride. My love of Georgia history and culture keeps me further engaged with the state, deepening my pride in it. But there are so many people that feel the same way about Georgia, and that’s where our brand hits home: in the hearts of people who care about where they’re from.
What kind of guy is a Peach State Pride customer? The typical Peach State Pride customer is between the ages of 17 and 35, usually a good ol’ boy who enjoys the outdoors, but also enjoys quality goods. We’re not the typical southern brand, we just aren’t, we weren’t birthed in the same way that many of those brands were birthed. We care about the State of Georgia; it’s culture, it’s land, it’s people. We give 15% of our profits back to Georgia and I think our customer appreciates that.
What is it like working at Peach State Pride? Light-hearted. We all get along really well and we don’t take things too seriously. Of course we work hard and when necessary put in the extra hours, but it’s really a good experience for everyone. We’ve got a good group of guys who work at our warehouse, a few great interns from UGA, and a great staff of workers at our stores. My old kindergarten teacher drives over an hour to work with us a few days a week. It really is a fun atmosphere.
What do you like to do outside of work? I spend time with my beautiful wife, Kari Beth Chitwood. We watch television together and go for walks. Sportscenter, College Gameday, and PTI are my favorite shows, much to her chagrin. But I love history, nature, agriculture, and architecture so there is always something biding my attention. We like to travel and get outside. We go to Clark Hill Lake a good bit when the weather is nice, and Amelia Island…it should be part of Georgia by the way. Just kidding, but maybe we should work something out.
What is your ‘Everyday Carry’? A wallet, my cell phone, keys…I’m a pretty simple guy.
What is your favorite ‘thing’ from Peach State Pride? I’m always trying out future products so most of the time it’s something we haven’t released yet. But right now, I’m really enjoying my Navy Trout Embroidered Belt.
And some images of their operation in Watkinsville:
Thanks to Derek and Kari Beth for being such great hosts…