It was last summer when Claremont High School freshman Dylan Baler took a trip to Santa Cruz’s Wharf and found himself inspired to create a T-shirt based on a colorfully exaggerated roller coaster he saw. As soon as he got back from his trip, using an iron-on T-shirt transfer sheet, he created a shirt pictured with the exact image of the rollercoaster he was initially inspired by.
In November of 2018, he, along with Claremont sophomore Aidyn Snelson, decided to turn Baler’s ideas into a brand. The two began to experiment with more designs using the same iron-on transfer sheet, and created their name: Belson, a combination of the duo’s last names.
“Four months passed and we didn’t really do anything,” Baler said. “And then one day [Snelson] came over to my house and he brought a bunch of shirts and I had a heat transfer sheet, and we made our first ever shirt. We showed a bunch of people and they said they loved it, so we made 10 of them. We started to make some money and used that to buy more supplies.”
As their brand began to receive more momentum, they switched to a professional screen printing method for their T-shirts and began to experiment creatively with different drawings and designs. Belson now carries T-shirts, sweatshirts, keychains, among other products, all with a style reminiscent of 1990s skateboarding culture.
At such a rate, they hope to eventually support CHS’ skate club with free shirts, along with allocating their profits towards skateboards for those who are unable to afford them. As Belson gains popularity, the two have actively expressed their desire to make the brand a positive influence on the Claremont community.
Unfortunately, Belson is limited by school regulations regarding selling products on campus, forcing Baler and Snelson to sell outside of school and promote via social media. To counteract this, they hope to create a professional website in the upcoming months, which will allow them to market their products on a wider scale. In addition, they hope to eventually see Belson products carried in various independently owned skate shops, including Claremont’s Stix Rideshop.
“Dylan is working on the website right now, and then we are also somewhat acquainted with Stix,” Snelson said. “I think it would be cool if we could get Stix to start carrying Belson stuff, but that’s probably going to take a bit.”
As Belson retains popularity throughout Claremont and continues to expand further, Baler and Snelson have expressed a desire to control the brand from growing too far past their initial intention: to create designs as they please with no limits, whether it be a drawing or a picture of the colorful Santa Cruz rollercoaster.