Pride Pants founder Matt Limpede also has entrepreneurship in his DNA and hopes to devote himself full time to the 3-year-old business
IRVING — In a hot, dusty warehouse that smells of lingering paint fumes, Matt Limpede transforms faded blue jeans to a vibrant rainbow pattern.
Limpede uses the warehouse his father owns as his creative space for the Pride Pants business he started in 2009.
The company’s small launch was “moderately successful,” as Limpede and a few friends attended Dallas and Austin Pride parades to sell the jeans, but working full time, he said he didn’t have enough time to dedicate to the project.
“Given my full-time job, I just didn’t feel I had enough time to work on it as much as I needed to,” he said. “I decided to start it again because I recently left my job and am working on creative projects including Pride Pants.”
After leaving his job in April, he’s brought new vigor to the business with help from an August fundraising campaign on Kickstarter.com, which grossed a little more than $2,800 from 41 backers in three weeks. The money went to buying more pants and paint.
The original idea for the pants came when Limpede attended his first Dallas Pride in 2005. He loved the atmosphere and wanted to show his Pride even more.
“I enjoyed it so much I just decided I want to do more than just wave a flag. I wanted to be the flag and just go all out,” he recalls.
A few years later, he grabbed a pair of pants and some spray paint and created his first pair of Pride Pants.
The spray paint gave the pants a crunchy feel and the paint rubbed off on his hands over time. He researched paints that bonded well with fabric and discovered a latex paint that sets with fabric. The colors don’t fade, but he said the lighter the jeans, the brighter the colors will show up.
After finding a good paint, he started to hunt for jeans at thrift stores in various sizes to stock up for festivals.
And the reaction from people who bought the pants was encouraging because they liked how the pants stand out, he said.
“For a lot of people, they chalk them up to rainbow pants, but a lot people really like having something like this to really show off their Pride in a way that hasn’t really been done before,” he said.
“People who really take Pride in identifying as gay aren’t afraid to show it,” he added. “So when they wear these pants, they feel like they’re able to show people without having to tell people that they’re gay and that they’re proud of it.”
Nicole Pettee, Limpede’s sister, helped him work Dallas Pride in the past. She said their father is an entrepreneur, so Limpede inherited entrepreneur DNA, which shows in his renewed vigor to jumpstart the project again.
“He had the idea but not the funding or the time to get the project off the ground,” she said. “And now he has the funds and time to make it a reality.”
She said she sees her brother branching out to other states and other festivals because of the new funding and more attention he can now give the business.
“There’s just a market for it at the (Pride) festivals,” she said. “I really think it can be a hit.”
Having only attended Dallas and Austin Pride to market the pants, Limpede said he’d like to eventually take them to Los Angeles or Washington, D.C.’s Pride. He is even considering approaching some of the stores on the Cedar Springs strip to sell them.
“We really would love to go to more festivals,” he said. “We kind of started small and we’re focusing on Dallas and Austin again, and I want to have a bigger inventory of pants than I did last time to really make sure if we have all the sizes, people will buy them.”
Right now, pants are available online for $45 or at festivals for $40. People can also mail in a pair of jeans they would like transformed.
But Pride Pants isn’t just pants anymore. Limpede said he’s started making jean shorts and has made a few T-shirts that he’ll sell at festivals this year. People can also send in skirts and jackets to be painted.
“We can basically paint anything that’s cotton-based,” he said. “So, we’re definitely open to expanding and including any kind of item people want to send us.”
Now that Limpede has spent several months gearing up for Pride festivals in September, he’s enjoyed the calming effect of working with the project again and would like to make the company his full-time job one day.
“If people are interested and purchasing them, I’d love to this full time,” he said. “I really enjoy painting the pants. …
“Something about actually being in warehouse and painting the pants is really calming. When the paint guns are working right, it’s really a good experience for me,” he said.
Check out Pride Pants at Dallas Pride or visit www.PridePants.net for more information.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 14, 2012.