The State Forty Eight’s Stephen Polando, Michael Spangenberg and Nicholas Polando consider themselves the Arizona Diamondbacks’ good luck charms.
After all, since the Chandler High School graduates’ apparel line aligned with D-backs, the baseball team has made a run for the playoffs. The snakes and State Forty Eight are preparing for patriotic giveaway on July 1. The first 20,000 fans will receive a State Forty Eight T-shirt emblazoned with an American flag fashioned out of a bat, an Arizona state map and stripes. More projects are in the works.
“For me, I’m a total sports fan—Arizona no matter what,” Spangenberg says. “The Diamondbacks have been struggling for a bit of years. We saw the potential. Even if they didn’t do well again, there are a lot of people who come to the ballpark. That’s happened for 19 years.
“We’re stoked about their success, though. We know how winning in sports can really ignite a community. The Cardinals during their Super Bowl run brought everyone together. It’s an awesome time.”
Founded as a simple T-shirt line honoring Arizona, State Forty Eight took the business to the next level after it was chosen as one of the “Emerging Designers” at Phoenix Fashion Week in 2014. Since then, the line has expanded and can be found online at statefortyeight.com and in local businesses across the Valley including Sibley’s West in downtown Chandler and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
“We didn’t want to make the clothing too busy,” Spangenberg says about the clothing’s simple design. “We did want something that was simple that people would recognize right away. We wanted to stress that Arizona is a really cool place to live.”
And Chandler is “cool” for State Forty Eight’s headquarters, a 1,099-square-foot multiuse space that functions as its office, workshop and showroom. Previously, the trio was working out of its home.
“It was a good problem to have, growing out of our home office,” Spangenberg says. “We wanted to take it to the next level. We’ve always been smart about putting profits back into the business. We really felt comfortable. It was time to take that leap of faith. It’s so much more motivating to have an office. When you have employees and meetings, it makes the business a lot more official, in my opinion.”
The collaboration with the D-backs has been a year in the making, thanks to friendships forged between the two entities.
“There was never any type of pressure,” he says. “They blew us away with their presentation. They had State Forty Eight logos throughout the ballpark. All the employees were wearing State Forty Eight that day. They showed us a lot of love. It’s our biggest financial commitment to date, being in business for four years. It’s really paying off.”
Spangenberg is impressed with the D-backs’ follow through promotion of the giveaway. Advertisements abound with Paul Goldschmidt wearing the T-shirt. His teammate, Chris Owings, donned the shirt during a national interview. The apparel has been featured in the television broadcasts of the games leading up to the July 1 event.
“Advertising has been everywhere—on billboards around Phoenix, TV and even a couple people out of state told me they heard Pandora commercials about it. It’s been awesome and we’re pumped.”
This isn’t State Forty Eight’s first foray into sports. In 2016, it was behind a Bruce Arians shirt.
“We wanted to demonstrate our appreciation for Bruce Arians and the Cardinals with this design,” Spangenberg says. “The goal was to provide Cardinals fans with another option to support the home team that was different than the traditional sports team apparel.”
And Arians—with his colorful personality and signature look of thick-framed glasses and a Stetson cap—was the obvious inspiration. Taking it a step further, State Forty Eight partnered with the Arians Family Foundation, which supports the development of programs that strive to prevent and reform the abuse and neglect of children.
“We are grateful to partner up with the Arians Family Foundation and give back,” Spangenberg says. “This collaboration is rewarding because it allows us to work with the coolest coach in the NFL and do something good for a cause that is near and dear to our hearts.”
Spangenberg is thrilled that State Forty Eight has been so successful.
“You have to pinch yourselves sometimes and ask, ‘Is this really happening?’” he says. “We have a vision and it wasn’t necessarily to be sports heavy, but where else can you get in front of so many people who love Arizona besides sports?”
State Forty Eight is also working on projects with the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Coyotes.
“It all starts with hard work,” he adds. “It’s humbling to be wanted, but we can’t do too much at once. Otherwise, you’re going to drown. We want to focus on the Diamondbacks deal, hit a home run and get the appropriate ROI on it.”
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, Chase Field, 401 E. Jefferson Street, Phoenix, 602.462.6500, arizona.diamondbacks.mlb.com, 7:10 p.m. Saturday, July 1, $19-$275.