Thumb resident in pursuit of brand recognition

When Greg Lechowicz has free time, he often runs marathons, paddles, takes photos or creates new designs for his line of Great Lakes Pursuit clothing, magnets, stickers, backpacks and hats.

If you’ve ever visited the Port Austin Farmers’ Market, you’ve most likely seen Greg’s tent filled with his unique and beautiful creative clothing including hoodies, shirts, pants, hats and shorts. Greg has been a consistent supplier in Port Austin for the past five years. The clothing features the Great Lakes Pursuit logos of the ever popular Turnip Rock in Port Austin. With a keen eye for picture perfect angles and designs, he creates clothing masterpieces that showcase the local locations of Pointe Aux Barques and Port Austin Lighthouses in Huron County. Other garments feature iconic Michigan locations such as the beauty of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Mackinac Bridge and Painted Rocks to name a few.

He was able to combine his enormous talent for design and function with his love for running, paddling, nature and photography. Although Greg has a ‘regular job’, his passion for the GLP brand he created makes this young entrepreneur a role model for anyone considering pursuing a dream. Greg’s dream all started with the “pursuit” for a special hat.

As an avid standup paddler, it was only natural that Greg would want to wear a hat with a standup paddler on it. The paddleboard hadn’t gained much popularity in the Midwest in 2015. Greg even recalls getting “some weird looks on a paddleboard on Lake Huron 10 years ago.”

After searching online and getting nothing, an idea began to form in his head. Greg decided that he would design his own hat, which would lead to “The Pursuit” and the creation of his own brand, Great Lakes Pursuit, a few years later.

As the entrepreneurial spirit began to stir in Greg, he began a journey of research, learning and branding his Great Lakes Pursuit line of products.

“The artistic theme and concept came naturally to the designs of the hats,” said Greg. “However, I had to learn different software packages and learn what it took to develop a vision in my head and make it a reality on a hat and sportswear to wear. I became more adept and knowledgeable in the hat design process through the running community and became a brand ambassador for a custom headwear company before building a global network of my own suppliers and launching the brand.”

“I also became a licensed drone pilot in the process,” he continued. “Expansion into other products like sportswear has always been part of the vision. The long-term vision decades from now is to create a well-known brand name like The North Face or Patagonia with the right partnerships, mentoring and funding.”

With a strong vision, strong work ethic and extreme perseverance, Greg was confident that his product line had “the potential to become a brand and was worth growing over time into a recognizable household brand nationally”.

The “pursuit” for brands became a reality. The branding process continued after the iconic Turnip Rock and a paddleboarder who is actually a silhouette of Greg were chosen as logos and of course the Great Lakes Pursuit name.

“I filed several trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office back in December 2017 when GLP was formed and incorporated to protect the trademark idea, logos, names on clothing and headgear,” said Greg. “They were approved in 2018 and registered in 2019. The trademark process was a learning opportunity and I did it all on my own and did not use any external external legal assistance.”

Starting and growing a business is akin to watching your child be born and helping them mature and grow. Greg is involved in every aspect of the GLP line, from design to the choice of materials such as polyester for his sportswear.

“In my experience, most tourist shops and vendors simply use or use screen printing on unprinted cotton shirts,” he said. “I don’t think it was anything unique. I often found the material uncomfortable, heavy and not moisture wicking. Second, they print designs on another company’s shirts. I wanted my own branding, labels and logos. There are different forms of materials that can be used. However, polyester-based materials simply offered better graphic design options and lightweight, moisture-wicking functionality.”

Every aspect from the color of the threads, zippers, graphic placement, comfort and quality is part of Greg’s never-ending pursuit of excellence at the GLP brand. Comfort, quality, durability and uniqueness are the hallmarks of its sportswear.

Greg welcomes contributions and comments from family, friends and clients.

“Everyone has different tastes and preferences,” he says. “I try to make my designs as unique as possible. Second opinions are always good. One of the most common compliments I get is the uniqueness of the gear and hearing repeat customers say so many people are asking, ‘Where did you get that? ‘ I think getting feedback from customers at events and shows is just as important for future designs.”

Ambition, energy and hard work have led Greg to success in his ‘pursuit’ of his dream.

“The long-term vision is always focused on a lifestyle and sports brand and everything that goes with it, from clothing, headwear and uniforms that combine art, graphic design and photography with quality materials and production,” he said. “However, as a vendor at certain venues like the Port Austin Farmers Market, I’ve dabbled in replica Port Austin Reef Lighthouse and Turnip Rock as souvenirs to take home.”

Popular products often depend on the season and individual tastes.

“In the hot summer months, hats seem to be a fan favorite,” Greg said. “As the weather cools into fall, hoodies seem to take center stage.”

“The initial product designs were focused on Port Austin and then branched out to other areas of the Great Lakes State and then just focused on the logo and brand image,” said Greg. “It’s certainly true how certain trends and colors go out of style and come back in style. Every year the brand slowly expands with new products, materials and designs. I was very excited to launch technical racing kits this year featuring Cheetah and Leopard prints with ultra-lightweight materials for maximum mileage on race day. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with high schools to develop custom gear for their cross-country track teams.”

Greg said the paddler in one of the logos represents the freedom of the brand.

“When you’re on the water there’s a certain feeling of being free and flying like a bird,” he said. “Hence it is the concept of striving; pursue whatever you want in life. The logos should serve as a reminder to pursue your goals and dreams.”

Greg’s line of products showcases the beauty of Michigan in stunning graphics and designs. I

You can reach Greg at: [email protected], or on Instagram: @greatlakespursuit.

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