WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Dan Barrenechea said his Peruvian heritage has always fascinated him — especially when it comes to the history of the Nazca lines for the Westborough resident.
The 2008 Westborough High School graduate admired the mysterious designs so much, in fact, that he's begun his own business, Nazca Line Apparel, with their namesake.
"There's two types of customers," he said. "There are those that know the Nazca lines and those who don't."
Barrenechea, along with fellow Westborough resident and friend David Vohschin, began the clothing concept while studying at UMass-Amherst. Erica Baptiste of Dartmouth designed the art for the shirts while the others helped to develop and market them.
Barrenechea, the only member of his family not born in Peru, struck a deal with a clothing distributor in his family's native country with the help of his father.
The company has sold about 600 shirts since its July launch and is now looking into expanding into hooded sweatshirts and other apparel. The shirts can be purchased online through the official Nazca Line website.
Barrenechea said the bulk of his marketing has been directed toward the college crowd, where he sees his role to be half salesman and half educator for the mysterious crop circles of the South American country.
"It's an awesome feeling and it's really cool when people open their minds to it," he said. "Peru is really a mysterious country."
In early November, the three gave back to the country that inspired their business venture, donating $1,500 to AlliancExchange and the children of Tacna, Peru. The money is intended to supply 30 children with backpacks filled with all the necessary supplies for a full year of school.
Five percent of the income from every shirt is donated to AlliancExchange, according to a news release.
"An important part of what we do is to raise money towards our mission of providing education to Peruvian children in need," he said. "We feel that since our shirts are made in Peru and the historic Nazca lines are in Peru, we should give back to Peru."
Barrenechea said his next goal is to put his musical skills to work and create a soundtrack for each design. He said he's come up with five songs already, and plans to use them in his marketing efforts.
"It's done really well. We're active on Twitter and Facebook and we've reached a ton of people," he said. "We have friends of friends of friends buying shirts now — it's really exciting."