This entry is part 16 of 32 in the series Spring 2016


by Nik Olsen

INSIDE A SPRAWLING COMPLEX at the Miller International, Inc., headquarters in Denver, tucked among the fabric swatches for upcoming fashion lines and bold pictures of rodeo stars wearing the company’s brands, employees are busy with the business of putting out popular Western apparel.

Look closer at the desks, and you can see college loyalties are proudly displayed, and Colorado State University Ram logos pop up everywhere. Many of the employees are CSU alumni — and from afar it makes sense: CSU hosts top merchandising and fashion design programs, as well as the College of Agricultural Sciences that instructs students in a broad array of fields such as crop sciences, animal science, horticulture, and agricultural economics.

As it turns out, CSU graduates are the right fit with Miller International’s needs: skilled, hardworking, and innovative thinkers who share a love for heritage of the American West. The company uses those skills to produce its six brand lines that include Cinch, Cruel Girl and Miller Ranch.
“As a land-grant university, Colorado State University’s alumni graduate honoring agrarian and entrepreneurial roots,” said Megan Scales, sponsorship and social media manager for Miller International, and a CSU alumna.

“Miller International’s commitment to promoting the Western way of life while embracing innovation is coupled by the team’s strong sense of camaraderie, community and work ethic.”

The company found its success by taking a forward-looking approach to apparel design, Scales said. In an already crowded market, Miller International made room for itself by winning over bull riders and barrel racers through innovative and durable goods. It uses computer-aided drafting to design its plaids and paisley fabrics rather than purchasing pre-designed fabric from outside suppliers. Those who wear the clothes — riders, ropers and ranchers among them — are asked for feedback about everything from stitching to fit.

“CSU graduates are among the best in the country for common sense and out-of-the-box thinking, and are a perfect fit for Colorado-based Miller International,” Scales said.

Hearing that a company values the varied talents of CSU graduates is not a surprise to Ajay Menon, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at CSU.

“We don’t graduate one-dimensional students because the world does not need one-dimensional thinkers,” he said. “For someone to find success, they need to have skills and knowledge from as many areas as possible. And they need to know how and when to take a calculated risk that can lead to innovative solutions.”

Students in the College of Agricultural Sciences bring their passion for their chosen field and often celebrate the lifestyles that provide the nation with the food, clothing, and other raw materials it needs. The college makes it easy for its students to graduate with a dual major in a standard window of four years.

True to form, Scales graduated as a double major in Equine Sciences and Business. Dual majors offered by the college combine business and education coursework with soil and crop sciences, animal sciences, resource economics, and even journalism.

“In our college — and elsewhere at CSU – our students want to learn the skills they can invest into their passions,” Menon said. “Our students go on to find success in any number of fields because they know how to succeed and they know how to work hard.”