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POCATELLO — Nearly 20 years after being injured in combat, a local veteran of the U.S. Marines is running an apparel company with his friends.
Nicholas Carson, Stuart Johnson and Connor Lamont teamed up to revive American Built, a small clothing business that he and another business partner started in 2012.
“Going from zero to where we’re at now, doing thousands of dollars a month, I’d call it a huge success,” Carson said.
While American Built hasn’t reached the same level of sales that it saw in 2018 when Carson had to back off of the business, he knows that will change.
“I know where American Built is going and I know where we’re gonna take it, which is way past whatever we were doing in 2018,” Carson said.
What separates American Built, Carson says, is that every aspect of clothing creation takes place in the United States. Not only is it manufactured in America, but the raw materials are gathered in America too.
This is what makes American Built the business that it is, Carson says, and it helps them maintain the quality of their product and not support unethical production in other countries that use child labor.
And he wants the business to stay out of politics.
“I just don’t want anything to do with it. I want to keep it here and keep the jobs here and keep supporting America,” Carson said. “I’m not Republican built and I’m not Democratic built, I’m American built. I just leave it at that.”
The cotton for American Built clothing comes from the Southern United States. It’s manufactured in California and is then shipped to Pocatello.
Until they’re able to acquire warehouse space, Carson and his partners are holding inventory and prepping them for delivery from their own homes.
“It’s pretty amazing how many shirts you can sell out of your house,” Carson said.
But Carson and his team don’t want to stay in their houses forever. Their goal is to eventually have their own warehouse space to store inventory and fill orders.
In order to keep the business running smoothly, the three of them divide the labor. Stuart is in charge of shipping and customer service, Connor is in charge of the website and marketing and Carson handles the designs and printing.
A few thousand dollars worth of apparel are shipped out every week. Last week, Carson said they sent out 208 hats, shirts and hooded sweatshirts.
“We make a really good team and we’ve got a great sense of humor,” Carson said.
Carson received the Purple Heart after his injury in 2004. While in the service in Iraq, he was hit by a piece of shrapnel after a rocket narrowly missed him.
After that, he became a sniper, eventually rising to the rank of Corporal E4.
The difference between his life then to his current civilian life is like “night and day.”
“I don’t know what average is but (I was) just trying to figure out what my purpose is,” Carson said.
After he left the service, he was looking for adrenaline and did MMA fighting, as well as bar fighting.
“(I) lived a pretty destructive lifestyle,” Carson said. “Even after (starting the business), I still struggled.”
Although there are still times when he doubts himself, Carson says he’s come a long way. His business gives him a reason to keep going and accomplish things.
“I take a lot of pride in what I do and I’m not perfect, so I just do the best I can, and here I am (a former) sniper in the Marine Corps selling T-shirts,” Carson said.