by Eric Ginsburg


Erik Stephens and friend Johnny Smrdel are the driving force behind Centennial Trading Company, a Winston- Salem-based textile company that specializes in making traditional men’s work wear. The goal of the enterprise, which is just a few years old, is to draw on the area’s textile traditions and produce quality garments made in-state.

The cutting and sewing is done in-state when possible, which is no small feat, Stephens said. The goal is to produce a product that has already been in fashion for a century and to capture that “timeless aesthetic,” he said.

Stephens and Smrdel do additional leatherwork themselves — belts, wallets, custom-made pieces and more — and Centennial also offers custom sizing and dyes, Stephens said. The pair dove into the business without any significant textile or fashion experience, but the company continues to expand and recently moved into a better workspace, he said.

Stephens still has a day job — describing Centennial as “a laborious hobby, at best” — running Stand Up Martial Arts & Fitness. The gym offers personal training, group strength classes and a variety of mixed martial arts, he said.

Between the gym and Centennial (not to mention his distinguishing appearance), Stephens may be a well-known figure in town, but he could only hope to rival his wife’s dog. Take a look at Charlie the Corgi (pictured here), and it’s easy to understand why the pup is famous on Instagram.

Follow @charliethecorgi on Instagram.

Visit or contact Erik at !