Montana is known for many things — its rugged beauty, national parks, wildlife and its people.
There’s one brand that encompasses all of that and in this week’s Montana Made feature, reporter Justine Stewart talked with Sabrina Smith, a Missoula woman who found a way to own and trademark the 406.
Smith is the owner and founder of The Green Light, a shop that caters to everything Montana.
The Green Light was a dream that started in 2006 and 10 years later it’s become the center of everything 406.
"Montana artists just kept approaching us and we were seeing just so much talent in Missoula and Montana that we felt it was a good path to take," Smith said.
It’s a path that led Smith to the opportunity of a lifetime — owning the trademark for 406 on apparel.
"The main design is not only the bracket… but the 406 on the old license plate with Big Sky Country, and then I’ve been doing different designs lately with 406 as a trademark," Smith said.
Smith is currently in the process of branching out and getting 406 trademarked on hats, beverage wear, stickers, magnets, and more.
But it’s not always easy. There are lots of people out to make money on a brand they may not realize is already owned.
"A lot of people do put 406 on a lot of items because they just don’t think that it’s a trademarked design because they are like, you can’t trademark the state of Montana and I say, ‘I’m not trademarking the state. I’m trademarking a sequence of numbers and a design that just happened to represent Montana through an area code’," Smith explained.
While it’s an issue Smith says she may run into for some time, there’s one thing that sets her products apart.
"I can proudly say that all of my 406 items, whether it’s a pint glass, a hat, a hoodie a tote, a pair of socks which I’ve had 406 on before, they are all made in the USA and they are all printed or embroidered here in Missoula," Smith said.
Of course, owning the 406 means truly representing it. At The Green Light, Smith sells jewelry, skin care items, cutting boards, bags, candles — you name it — all Montana Made.
"I at this point in time carry 50 local artists, designers, and craftspeople and that’s just the tip of the iceberg," Smith said.
"I’m proud of the fact that I’ve been able to own a trademark, own a design that is closely linked to Montana because we are just a very proud state," Smith said.
"We are proud of the fact that we have one area code. And, I’ve enjoyed it very much so. We’re going to be coming out with some new designs next summer as well. Visitors and tourists love it too," Smith concluded.