Over the past two years, one freshman business major has endured more than the average person.
Instead of letting his challenges deter him, Connor Roemen used them as inspiration to create a clothing brand that empowers people to overcome their obstacles.
On July 10, 2021, Roemen was in a car crash in Okoboji, Iowa, that resulted in a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the chest down.
He was airlifted to Sioux Falls, where he underwent a 7.5 hour surgery. After spending more than a week at Sanford Hospital, Roemen moved to Craig Hospital in Englewood, Colorado, for two months.
“I learned a lot there about independence, whether it’s just being by myself or learning how to transfer from my chair to anything,” Roemen said.
After his stay in Colorado, Roemen returned to Sioux Falls to complete school and additional rehab.
While in Sioux Falls, Roemen’s dad heard from a friend about BARWIS in South Florida: a neurological re-engineering program for people with spinal cord injuries. Roemen and his dad moved to Florida to complete this intensive rehab.
“I had the time of my life down there,” Roemen said. “I made some friends, had good rehab status and I was getting some movement back in my legs.”
Six months later, Roemen moved back to Sioux Falls, where he now attends Augustana.
During his journey, Roemen collected a number of supporters who showed interest in his story.
“I got inspired because I had a bunch of people following my story and supporting me,” Roemen said. “I created this clothing brand to show people that you can achieve your hardest goal. You can overcome that roadblock that’s setting you apart from everything, and you can beat your fears and your obstacles.”
Roemen said his background in athletics was another major inspiration for the brand.
“Before my injury, I was into football, basketball, baseball, golf, tennis. I was into everything,” Roemen said. “And then I got injured, so all those sports came to a stop, and I had to figure out new ways to channel my energy and still be competitive.”
Roemen now participates in sled hockey, wheelchair tennis, sit skiing and adaptive mountain biking. He says the athletic world is a good place to advertise the brand, as it is filled with people who must endure challenges.
Roemen launched his brand in July 2022 while living in Florida. From idea to execution, the process of creating the brand took about six months.
“I was just bored in my room one day and I thought, ‘I can do something here with my supporters and teach them that they can overcome anything,’” Roemen said.
Roemen designed everything himself, sketching the ideas for the website, clothes and logo on a notepad before transferring them to his computer. The design was created with his followers in mind.
“I was just trying to go for something simple and not too out there because I had a lot of really young and really old audiences,” Roemen said. “It’s not just a bunch of college students where I could put something really crazy on there. I was just going for something kind of sleek.”
After the designs were completed, Roemen’s parents helped him with the production. The clothes are produced by a combination of a family friend’s printing business and an online service.
Roemen says the launch of the brand was rocky at best.
“I didn’t really know anything about running a business,” Roemen said. “I didn’t really market that well and I had all the taxes and shipping prices messed up. There were quite a bit of things that went wrong with it.”
After fixing these initial problems, Roemen couldn’t be happier with how the brand turned out. He says his favorite piece to wear is the basic t-shirt.
The brand offers 13 different options for apparel, including shirts, pants, vests and a hat. All pieces feature the circle logo that reads “Endure Anything” around the top and “Believe in Yourself” around the bottom. People can shop his collections on www.endureanything.com.
Roemen donates 10% of Endure Anything’s proceeds to help people with the costs associated with spinal cord injuries.
Roemen hopes his brand will continue to grow and inspire people. He said he wants to spread the message that belief in oneself leads to the ability to endure anything.
“You can get over that obstacle that’s in your way. You can run right through it if you have the mindset,” Roemen said. “If I didn’t think the way I did, and my mindset isn’t the way it is, I wouldn’t be in the situation I am today. I wouldn’t be as happy as I am. I just feel like your life’s not over if there’s something blocking your way. You can just get around it and go through it.”