Michael Rosenplot, Rogue Dog Designs
Photograph by Will McGuirk
Billy Bragg said the revolution was only a T-shirt away. Michael Rosenplot’s personal revolution was really just a T-shirt away. He took the great leap forward, cut out the middleman and started his own business, Rogue Dog Designs.
Rosenplot graduated from Niagara College but was unable to find work in his hometown of Oshawa Ont. He was hired by General Motors and stayed there for six years until layoffs and buyouts came down the line. The time came to choose. He chose to invest in himself. He used the money to start Rogue Dog and began his screen-printing clothing business.
“It’s grown over the past five years into a fully functional business, much to my surprise,” he says.
Rosenplot says he had no previous business or economics training and has hit every bump on the road. He’s learned the hard way and has one lesson in particular to pass on.
“Don’t undervalue yourself,” he says. “I find with a lot of artists they are just not sure how to properly price their work. But if you are going to be doing this for a living and you are going to dedicate yourself to it you’ve got to be able to pay your bills. Don’t undervalue, if people need it they will pay for it.”Rogue Dog offers a full line of band merchandise from tees to buttons to hats. That accounts for much of his workload but he says he also has charities, unions and business clients seeking uniforms, work-wear and event shirts. Most of the work comes from referrals from friends and previous customers. Many clients are first time small business owners just like him.
“It’s a good time,” he says, “there’s a lot of places opening up, great venues . . . I think Oshawa has changed over the past five years. There’s been a huge shift from what used to be a blue-collar manufacturing town; it’s got a huge injection of youth with the university and college now so much a part of the city. There’s a lot of young blood out there and they’ve got something to say. If I can help them along with the way with that, whether it’s visually or if they want to wear their heart on their sleeve, well, I can do that too.”
Rogue Dog will, at the very least, help you wear your art on your sleeve.