Alumni entrepreneurs celebrate Georgia culture, history
If Ray Charles had it right when he sang “the road leads back to you,” in the famous Georgia state anthem, then it’s no wonder the road Georgia College Alumnus Derek Chitwood is traveling led him to pursue a business celebrating the culture and history of Georgia.
“It’s truly about the culture of Georgia,” said Derek, founder of Peach State Pride. “From Lookout Mountain, to Atlanta to Savannah—you see so many cultural differences, and what we aim to do is build an understanding of the entire state.”
The idea of Peach State Pride began back in 2008 after Derek, who graduated from Georgia College with a Bachelor of Arts in History ’07, noticed the palm tree crescents of South Carolina so prominently displayed throughout the state. The idea of a unifying state brand sparked a passion within Derek, who soon began drafting up a logo.
“I drew one up one day and sent it to a family friend who happened to be a graphic designer,” said Derek. “What started in the beginning as us designing a decal has evolved into the clothing line Peach State Pride currently is.”
Derek runs Peach State Pride with his wife, Kari Chitwood ’13, along with three other full time employees—two of which are also Georgia College alumni.
One of the unique aspects of Peach State Pride is its dedication to state non-profits. Peach State Pride donates 15 percent of all profits to the Georgia Historical Society, Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the Georgia Cancer Foundation. Giving
“We really wanted to be a brand that means something," said Kari. “We’re unique in that we are a Southern brand, but we want to go beyond just another T-shirt company. We want to give back to the state and be a part of the towns we all live in.”
Peach State Pride’s charitable donations don’t stop there. They also host a Greek Philanthropy Competition, where they give promo codes to sororities and fraternities to use throughout the month of October. The winning chapter receives 15 percent of the competition’s profits to their designated philanthropy. Last year, Georgia College’s own Kappa Delta won the annual competition.
Giving back is part of what the Chitwoods hope to do with Peach State Pride, but at the helm of their business is a strong emphasis on historical preservation. Recent designs focus on significant geographical and historical events of Georgia, including a shirt highlighting the invention of the cotton gin in Chatham County.
“What you’ll see going forward with Peach State Pride, is that no one is going to do it like us,” said Derek. “We are promoting the unique history of Georgia, and it’s a deep, long history—not every state can say that.”
With the recent expansion into a full retail store in Watkinsville in May 2013 and over 75 stores carrying their merchandise—Peach State Pride shows no signs of slowing down. Future projects for the company include button-down shirts and bowties.
However, at the heart of the Chitwood’s success lies a relentless pride in their home state.
“Georgia is such a unique place and the people here are proud,” said Kari. “Our products are just a visual reminder of giving back to small communities and to the state in general.”
To find out more about Peach State Pride visit, peachstatepride.com.