Made in Minneapolis

Dinosaur Hampton/Benjamin Kelly

Style evolution, alter egos, and aspirations... Benjamin Kelly aka Dinosaur Hampton talks to Hennepin Made about design and making in Minnesota.

Benjamin Kelly landed on the Twin Cities maker scene as Dinosaur Hampton in 2018. With custom chain stitch embroidery and bespoke workwear pieces, the brand is rooted in Kelly’s endless style evolution, alter egos, and aspirations; taking what he absolutely loves, passing it along to others, and leaving the rest behind. In Kelly’s own words, Dinosaur Hampton is a place, a person, an aspiration, a universe–it’s infinite, and made in Minneapolis.

"…Dinosaur Hampton is this loony guy I met on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s vibing on the couch, it’s an island in some far off land.”

Benjamin’s journey as a maker is far from fantasy though. He always loved getting dressed, but when he visited Los Angeles and met a guy making and selling pants, his world blew wide open. Benjamin quickly bought a sewing machine, a chain stitch machine, and began building his brand by saying “yes,” even when he wasn’t sure how to do something yet. Custom chain stitching led to custom jackets and other wares with imagery unique to the Dinosaur Hampton universe, and the people who choose to join it. 

With a recently launched webstore, you can be first to see many of Benjamin's designs.

"I was building the bridge while I was on it…sometimes you just say 'yeah' for the sake of the gig, for the sake of growth."

Kelly credits some of his success to the accessible scale and the vibrant maker scene of the Twin Cities. Makers here are as bold as they are hardworking.

"… there’s a real farmer vibe here–get up, get into the field, make something happen. It's in our blood as Minnesotans. People here don’t let fear get in the way of learning new things and building something new. That lack of fear is really unique to the makers here."

While Ben isn’t sure how things will turn out in the long term, but moving away from exclusive drops and scaling up towards retail shops are on his mind. Though growing your business can sometimes come at the expense of sustainability, the core of Kelly’s ethos and inspiration is a reverence for the past and the emphasis on quality over quantity that drives his work.

"I know cotton will wear and break down over decades so that you can repair it then you can learn to love it. Maybe pants eventually turn into shorts and then eventually they just turn into dish towels–I think it’s absolutely great."