Though he has built a career playing professionally around the globe, former Albuquerque soccer standout Ben Spencer has always had a vision for the place he calls home.
Spencer moved away from the Land of Enchantment at the age of 15 to pursue his dream of playing soccer professionally. His dream came true, having played for Norway, Indy Eleven (on a loan), and currently as a member of Toronto FC.
Through it all, Spencer’s state pride has never faltered.
He and longtime childhood friend Clayton Blueher came up with an idea to create a company that would still allow New Mexico to ring true in their lives. Spencer pitched a clothing line idea to Blueher, a recent graduate from UNM’s Anderson School of Management.
The spirit of the line would be captured in its motto: New Mexico versus Evrybdy.
Not only did the saying fill the hearts of the two entrepreneurs, but the duo decided to make it a brand they live by, and it is posted right on the New Mexico vs. Evrybdy shirts.
“My first thought when I think of New Mexico is just home,” Spencer said. “It will always be home. It will always hold a special place in my heart because that’s where I grew up, where a lot of my friends are and where I’ve had some of the best memories of my life growing up there.”
The two came up with the idea in late June and quickly created the company’s first clothing line, unveiled on July 11 on the company’s Instagram page — NMVE.
Blueher said he doesn’t just want people to think of New Mexico vs. Everybdy as a clothing line, but as a sense of unity for the diverse population of individuals with blood or adopted roots.
“The biggest thing is for people to come together and really think about this not as a company, or apparel, necessarily, but more of a movement,” Blueher said. “Yeah, we are a little rough around the edges, but it’s a beautiful place, with a ton of beautiful people from there that are really proud.”
As with Spencer, Blueher no longer resides in Albuquerque. After getting his business degree, Blueher moved to Seattle and now works for Concur, a provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions.
Though the two are running the company from different regions in North America, Blueher added that everything from lawyers to photographers down to the models represent local talent with New Mexico affiliations.
Though Blueher is not physically present in the state where he grew up, he and Spencer both said they are still looking to make an impact on the community.
The clothing line donates $1 of every item sold to Happy Jack, a foundation for the education, assistance, and research of autism. Happy Jack was created by Spencer’s aunt, Julia Bursum, for her son, Jack, who was diagnosed with autism.
“Even though Ben is out working on his career and I’m out working on mine, we both have aspirations to give back to the community of New Mexico,” Spencer said. “That’s kind of why NMVE, Happy Jack, and all of that just pulled our heart strings and it seems to be pulling others’ as well.”
The two have created business models before, and though nothing has quite stuck yet, Spencer said he has learned a lot about how certain business models have run. He added that though the apparel line may be a simple model, he feels that the message on its t-shirts and hats is what is going to draw people together.
“It’s sort of like a science experiment,” Spencer said. “You guess things at first, and then you kind of test them out and get the feedback from what people are saying and how the product is selling or doing and then you either pivot or stay the track.”
At first glance, many individuals don’t even notice the “o” missing in the final word of the clothing line, something both Blueher and Spencer said was done to make it stand out in the fashion industry’s trendy environment. They said that was part of the point — to provide something that was different and part of their unique vision for the brand.
Currently, the two are in talks with various retail outlets in the Nob Hill/downtown area, but they said for the time being they are relying on social media and word of mouth to grow the new company.
“For at least the next year or so, we are going to be online-based,” Blueher said. “We are working (on) getting into various retailers, kind of in the Nob Hill area where the apparel would catch on the most, but we’re just in talks with a few different people in that area.”
For those like Blueher and Spencer who no longer live in New Mexico, online sales are going to be a major way to spread the brand across the nation for those who want to represent state pride wherever life may take them.
“A lot of people feel the same way that I do, and have a lot of state pride about where they’re from because it says a lot about who you are as a person. That really doesn’t change,” Spencer said. “Even living in some really cool places — Toronto, California, Norway — New Mexico still holds a really special place in my heart and mind.”
Liam Cary-Eaves is the sports editor for the Daily Lobo. He primarily covers volleyball, women’s basketball and baseball. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @Liam_CE.