Local senior creates a success in a band-themed clothing company

Ryan O’Reilly, a senior in mass communication, started Heartbound Clothing with Miguel Mendoza, a U alumni, and Zach Hyte, a self-taught graphic designer. Photo Courtesy Ryan O'Reilly
Ryan O’Reilly, a senior in mass communication, started Heartbound Clothing with Miguel Mendoza, a U alumni, and Zach Hyte, a self-taught graphic designer.
Photo Courtesy Ryan O’Reilly

In January 2012, Ryan O’Reilly had an idea. Years of admiring bands like Parkway Drive and Lincoln Park had led to a few stints in local bands — but never a major break. The real benefit, however, was the connections made within the music scene. When O’Reilly had the idea to start a clothing company, he already had a market.
“Growing up in the music industry … you idolize the people that are on the stage,” said O’Reilly, a senior in mass communication. “You want to be that person on stage, so you take on their actions, how they talk, what they wear, the brands they like, and those become something … you strive to acquire because you want to become that person on stage. And that has inspired [Heartbound Clothing] because we realize that the people on stage are us. The people on stage are just people. And so why not make your own style?”
O’Reilly, along with his two colleagues, have done just that with their clothing brand called Heartbound Clothing. Combining the talents of O’Reilly, U alumnus Miguel Mendoza and self-taught graphic designer Zach Hyte, Heartbound has made a national splash in the underground fashion scene — all starting from O’Reilly’s parents’ basement.
The idea to start a clothing company began on a whim. After O’Reilly called Hyte for a T-shirt design, Heartbound had a logo within an hour. Five days later, shirts were printed and ready to sell.
Through endorsing local and national bands, Heartbound Clothing made a name for itself in the music industry. Beginning by endorsing bands Famous Last Words, from Michigan, and Restless Streets, from New York, Heartbound spread its name through friends, touring and word of mouth. Now, Heartbound endorses Stories of Ambition and The Stranger Beside Me locally, along with many other bands from across the country.
Donning anchors and keys, Heartbound has a nautical theme harkening back to retro Navy tattoo artwork. Simple typography combined with the “Est. Salt Lake City” on many of Heartbound’s products never loses the novelty of wearing something made in Utah. The key to a successful independent clothing company, however, does not come from designing to please current trends, but instead from the simple idea of designing clothes that could be found in your own closet.
“We do what we want to do, we wear what we want to wear and we make clothes that represent who we are,” O’Reilly said.
Although Heartbound has only been up and running for little more than a year, the brand shows no sign of slowing down, with a summer line getting ready to be sent to print. O’Reilly maintains, however, it is not sales that determine the company’s success.
“I’ve measured [Heartbound’s success] in the kids that we’ve been able to reach out to … the bands that we’ve met and to the people that wear our clothes because they want to and not because someone else tells them to,” O’Reilly said.
Growing from a way to kill time into a legitimate company, O’Reilly stresses the importance of taking risks and following one’s ideas regardless of the “haters.”
“One of the big things that inspired me is being told I couldn’t do it,” O’Reilly said. “Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams.”