Last Best History
Alex and Brooke Blackler started out in 2015 as a sole proprietorship called Last Best Apparel. They started by putting the equipment owned by Alex's dad, Kevin, to use making their own branded apparel and headwear. Alex and Brooke would go down to the local people's market on Saturday weekends to sell their goods. Over the years they added on more events, a catalog and specialized in custom wholesale.
In 2020, Last Best Supply Co went to the Made in Montana trade show to expand upon it's wholesale business. The day after wholesale buyer day covid hit Montana. The Monday after the show all of Last Best's customers cancelled their orders.
With retail shops closed for the foreseeable future, the business was almost shut down. Brooke sewed up some masks and posted them online. The reaction was fast and strong. Quickly realizing that they needed a larger workforce to produce and ship masks, Brooke and Alex looked to their community to hire folks.
Sonnie, Katie and Q answered the call to action. Mask making and shipping became the primary business for Last Best Supply Co. It was during this time that Last Best Supply Co ran it's first fundraiser - raising over $6,000 for a local girl who had cancer. Last Best Supply Co also launched it's first try at working with artists, by printing their art on masks. Three different artists and two galleries worked with our brand to create some of the most beautiful masks on the market.
As mask sales started to slow, Last Best Supply Co had to pivot again. While developing new products and determining the right corse to pivot into, Last Best was kept afloat due to grants from the State of Montana.
It was during this time that the plate patch hat was developed. Brooke and Alex were interested in moving away from the same products as their competitors - single color printed shirts and embroidered headwear. This led to the innovation of decorated wood and metal riveted to hats. The sewing department began to develop new products as well - manufacturing our own bags and hats here in Montana.
In the summer of 2020 Brooke joined a women's business leaders zoom meeting with several women from local Missoula owned businesses. When the holiday season approached there was discussion about creating a gift box utilizing items from the various businesses in the group. Brooke realized that Last Best Supply Co was perfectly placed to make this a reality. They had the facility, the staff and the operational experience (from mask sales) to make it happen.
Thus Soula Box was born. Through Soula Box, Last Best Supply Co ran an online gift box experience with items from 11 local women owned businesses. They also ran their second fundraiser, raising money to gift boxes to over taxed healthcare workers. The outstanding success of this venture led to 258 boxes being delivered to Community Hospital and St. Patrick Hospital covid wards. Everyone got a box.
In 2021 Last Best Supply Co prepared for vending the people's market again and were met by eager buyers. The product development from 2020 blossomed into the most successful vending year Last Best Supply Co had ever done.
Towards the end of the summer, Last Best Supply Co was contacted by the Southgate Mall. The CEO of Washington Prime Group tasked the rental manager to find a Montana based brand with roots in the community to fill one of their in-line stores.
After visiting the space, realizing the potential of a fulfillment / retail location combo and having such a solid team, we decided to take the plunge and go for the store. We hope to promote more local artists in the merchandise world by decorating a variety of items with their art. We also are looking to build up the local creators and small businesses they have met over the years of vending by hosting various Made in Montana products within the store.
Through out this new venture Last Best Supply Co will continue to customize the goods they make for other companies. We are excited to bring this new venture to life and hope to build many more connections and fresh creations. Stay tuned to see how the move and build are unfolding!