Robert K. Banks, a former Albertsons executive, and Eric B. Petersen both were involved with local nonprofits when they started thinking of a business that could help fund the Allumbaugh House, a residential center in Boise that provides mental health and detoxification programs.
They started making a product called the Boise State Rally Towel, "which started this whole thing," Petersen says.
From the project emerged Spirit Towels USA, a new Eagle business that makes collegiate sports licensed merchandise including towels, posters, coloring books, wall calendars, greeting cards and invitations.
"We were running out of our garage, kind of like The Ramones, for the last 18 months," Petersen says.
When it starts making a profit - Spirit Towels USA was financed through loans as well as personal funds - the owners plan to give 10 percent of net sales to charities, with the primary focus being Allumbaugh House.
The business is an NCAA licensee now with nine schools, including Boise State University and the University of Idaho. It also has agreements to use the likenesses of former school athletes, such as football players Kellen Moore and Doug Martin.
The next step? They plan to expand the business into professional licenses, including the NFL, NBA and MLB.
"Now that we've developed a business model around Spirit Towels, we are also going to move forward a lot stronger with [a related business they run called] Next Step - artwork around the 12-step program," Petersen says.
Audrey Dutton: 377-6448, Twitter: @IDS_Audrey