Business spotlight: Nomadic Threads 

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A shot of Nomadic Threads’ signature neon sign and selfie wall, accented by a selection of shirts ready for print (Cayla Grace Murphy)

Updated Jan. 9, 2024, at 9:48 p.m.

CULLMAN, Ala. – Nomadic Threads husband and wife duo, Zac and Audra Yow, have cemented their place in Cullman’s Warehouse District through many things: a refreshingly unique window designed with whimsy and seasonal accents, kitschy gifts with a bohemian traveler feel and, most importantly, as the go-to for locals to get customized and personalized apparel. 

The Yows got their start in fall 2019, with one design catching like wildfire in the “line wife” community. 

“That’s what got us started. It started as a hobby,” exclaimed Audra Yow. “I came up with one idea and it just exploded!” Zac Yow quickly added, “By exploded, she means we made about 10 grand in 30 days!” 

She nodded, “That’s when we realized, ‘Oh, this could be a business!’” And it did, as it became the Yows’ main source of income as they navigated the COVID-19 pandemic.  

“When COVID shut everything down, we decided to go full time,” she said, noting that the orders from Gray & Co (Nomadic Threads’ former business name) kept them busy during lengthy shutdowns. After a move to Cullman to be closer to family, and a brave leap to a brick-and-mortar storefront, a name change brainstorm was in order. 

“When we moved here, we knew there was a Taylor and Co. across the street, and we didn’t want there to be any confusion. So we sat down and wrote a list of things we liked: nomad, travel, nomadic, then things we did, like apparel, threads, cotton. So we just pieced it together and went from there,” she continued.  

The Yows explained why they chose Cullman for their storefront versus a big city like Birmingham, where they were living at the time of the business boom. 

“When we first started the business, I told Zac that if we ever did a brick and mortar that I wanted it to be in the Warehouse District. Hands down. I liked the feel, the foot traffic,” said Audra Yow. “It was just a pipe dream at the time!” 

The Yows explained that the pipe dream came true when the Kellers, who own Pearl Skate Supply, let them know a unit was coming available in the highly sought after Warehouse District. 

“They mentioned that this (unit) was opening up, that we needed to talk to the landlord and just see,” Audra Yow said. After much convincing that Nomadic Threads isn’t just another boutique, and fulfilling a bulk order of shirts for the landlord himself, the Yows found themselves smack dab in the District, with orders for customized shirts and more steadily coming in as word got around. 

“We get called the ‘build-a-bear’ of the T-shirt world,” laughed Audra Yow. Her husband confirmed, “Online, we have people who just want a specific design and color. But with brick and mortar, we get to have that experience of helping the customer.” 

“It’s the full experience! They get to come in, take their time, pick out a design, pick their favorite brand of shirt, feel the material, pick the color. I mean, it’s really fun getting to see what people come up with!” Audra Yow grinned. 

The Yows said their designs stay in demand not just from word of mouth, but by the creative way they incorporate different print styles to assemble a truly unique and one-of-a-kind piece for the client. 

“It’s called mixed media! So we do the DTG print, then we can add puff print on the sleeves, or really mix anything like that,” said Zac Yow, with his wife chiming in that the mixed media is something they’ve really become known for, and something that can set them apart from others. 

“We have a lot of really good local shirt makers, but a lot of them don’t dabble in the mixed media, so it helps us stay really unique,” she smiled. 

The Yows hinted at some newly designed school spirit shirts dropping soon, along with the long-awaited return of Audra Yow’s custom hat bar. A far cry from the formulaic band-feather-burned approach from other custom hatteries, her approach to customizing hats puts the wearer in the driver’s seat, letting them bring their unique bohemian vision to life. 

A shot of a hat customized by Audra Yow of Nomadic Threads (Nomadic Threads)

“She got a little burnt out from Rock the South, but coming back with fresh eyes, and new hats, it’s going to be great!” exclaimed Zac Yow, referencing the fresh, punchy jewel tones of the new hat supply for wearers to choose from. 

Audra Yow expressed excitement at getting back into the game of customizing hats, noting the distinctive designs always make a great impression with their clients. 

“It’s always unique, every single person who’s gotten one has been extremely happy,” she said. “I’m really excited to bring it back because we don’t really have anything like that around here!” 

The Yows credit the success they’ve enjoyed to the fact that they made that fear-inducing jump to go full time, and to plant themselves in Cullman. 

“The relationships we’ve built with having an actual storefront has been astronomical. The people we’ve come in contact with and have met, we never would have just working from home,” said Zac Yow. Audra Yow agreed, and added, “And being around town and seeing our designs out in the community, it’s really fun to see that!” 

Besides offering customized apparel, the shop also has a selection of gifts, jewelry and upcycled clothing. Nomadic Threads is located at 106 First Ave. NE. Find the store on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nomadicthreadscullman.  

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