New business displays Central Montana pride

By: 
JENNY GESSAMAN
Reporter

Renee Stephens debuts her new stone City business at the Chokecherry Festival on Sept. 9 in Lewistown. On her right is her 5-year-old daughter, Piper Stephens, and on her left is her 10-year-old son, Harrison Wicks.

Photo by Jenny Gessaman

This spring, in the midst of parenting two children, co-running a nonprofit and a working a full-time administrative position, Renee Stephens had a thought: How could she show her Lewistown pride?

Stephens eventually provided her own answer, in the form of graphic design.

“I had some ideas for designs, and I started researching,” she said.

Research was more on-the-ground than on-the-web for Stephens: She sought out opinions on her sketches, and asked about what kinds of items people would like to see the graphics on.

By the summer, Stephens’ answer had solidified into a new business: stone City. She creates design based on local pastimes and places, and then incorporates them into everyday gear such as hats and key chains.

Stephens’ business allows people to have pride, and display it wherever they go.

“There’s not a lot for people to take with them,” she said. “I thought this could be something people can have.”

While she has created some artwork by request, Stephens chose her initial stock based on her preferences as a tourist.

“It’s what I look for when I go to other places,” she said. “Souvenirs that are small, affordable and reminders.”

Lewistown’s past provided the inspiration for the name of the business, as well as its own line of pride gear.

“Lewistown’s historically known as the City of Stone, because of the City’s masonry,” Stephens explained.

Other imagery is based on activities the area is known for, such as bird hunting, and if Stephens isn’t an expert in the topic, she finds someone who is. Her bird hunting design, for example, was looked over by hunters and outfitters before being finalized.

In the end, Stephens’ goal is to give residents and tourists a way to show their love for Central Montana.

“I feel like Lewistown’s in a transition, and I know people want to come here and visit,” she said. “I also want to raise my kids here, and have them have pride in where they’re from, and in the history of that place.”

Since stone City’s Sept. 9, Stephens has seen steady business and several custom orders. She’s even extended local pride into her business practices.

“I keep all of my outsourcing stuff local,” she said.

The stone City line is available at Six 18 coffee or on Facebook.

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