Students’ interest in the fashion industry, and especially in those businesses established by their peers, has aided in the continual success of students like Griffin Hart, Candace Clark and Annie Muscarella’s original and authentic brands.
As previously stated in the initial piece “New and upcoming Bobcat brands to support on campus,” all three students began dabbling with constructing their clothing lines in the beginning stages of quarantine as a mere way to keep busy — but ended up creating pieces that soon would be seen being worn by students all around campus.
Over the past few months, these three student innovators have dropped new merchandise, grown their followings, started websites and, overall, invested more time in the businesses they commit to upholding.
Hart, the founder of TwoCups and senior studying analytics and marketing, said massive growth has been made since the beginning phases of the brand.
“We started out making very small sales, and now we make a few hundred dollars in sales every few days,” Hart said.
Since Hart was last interviewed in September, his professional account has amassed a 30% increase in Instagram followers. As a result, social media has played a large role for TwoCups in terms of utilizing giveaways to increase sales, a greater following and brand recognition.
“Every time we do a giveaway, we ask that the people entering post it to their stories so their friends who don’t follow us see it and then do the same,” Hart said.
Similarly, Clark, a junior studying fashion product development and retail merchandising, has dealt with a significant shift in her self-titled brand. Previously, Clark had only spoken of her goal to open an online store as a pure concept. However, as of a month ago, this proposal became a palpable plan, with more traffic and purchases from customers than she could have ever expected.
Clark’s newborn website and boutique, CandaceClark, sells crewnecks and face masks with her original simplistic designs that are largely based around cities. Clark has a Columbus, Cincinnati and Cleveland collection, along with a section dedicated to “CC originals” that mainly include designs unique to Athens.
Much of her city collection’s inspiration is drawn from the store Homage and product designer Emily Roggenburk.
“I have always been inspired by the quote, ‘There is beauty in simplicity.’ This quote inspires me to keep each design simple and sweet,” Clark said.
Clark anticipates more site traffic due to the holidays, as her simple yet alluring designs have conjured up quite a large audience. She had problems in the past with keeping her products in stock, so she believes she is prepared for what is to come during the holiday season.
In order for Clark to treat her site as a full-time job, she has to work diligently to complete all of her coursework by 1 p.m. so that she can direct all of her attention toward her store during the remaining hours of the day. She said this can, at times, be very conflicting and challenging.
Likewise, Muscarella has had to take a break from her clothing line, titled “infearofx” — named because of every design detailing a different life fear — due to the same pressing issue of finals. Muscarella plans on growing her line though over winter break when she has more time to give it all of her attention. She has already expanded her brand in the past, given that when she last discussed her plans for the brand’s future, she had only hinted at dropping sweatpants, which have now been released and received great feedback.
Muscarella said she just recently accepted a grant from the school, which is a considerable game changer. Respectively, Muscarella has some exciting and contemporary plans for infearofx, thanks to the grant.
Not only has the grant helped Muscarella with the production process, but she notes social media as one of her main advancements in developing a reputation.
Correspondingly to TwoCups’ marketing strategy, Muscarella also offered giveaways.
“Because of people reposting my custom sweatshirts or posting pictures wearing them, I gained followers and customers. The two giveaways I’ve done have also allowed more people to see my clothes and follow me,” Muscarella said.
Additionally, like the other two, Hart has also advanced his company with the breakthrough of his season three merchandise, which, within just a couple days of being released, has been in high demand among Bobcats.
Like many know from the first piece, Hart’s brand widely surrounds the college party lifestyle, whether the designs are related to the distinguished two red solo cups logo or the theme emphasizing having hangover drinks on Sunday.
Hart expanded on these predominantly popular designs and incorporated a new emblem to TwoCups: the teddy bear.
“We came to the realization that a lot of people were drawn to the teddy bear. It’s simple, it goes with everything and people love seeing it with the TwoCups in its hand. The other designs we created were ones we had been planning on coming out with, and what better time than on our hoodies?” Hart said.
One of these new designs were TwoCups’ “Sunday tie-dye hoodies.” Hart foresees them being the most popular out of the collection, as he has sold a lot of them and even promoted a giveaway for one, which caught the attention of many Instagram users.
What many fail to consider, though, is the amount of planning that goes into designing, manufacturing and advertising the apparel.
Hart’s process, after envisioning and illustrating the designs, begins with purchasing their pieces from Reynoldsburg, Ohio. Then, after releasing the apparel’s mockups, Hart releases a pre-sale to better gauge how many customers are likely to purchase them and, therefore, ease the purchasing costs.
As for Clark, she has always been deeply interested in drawing and designing. She creates them digitally using the app ProCreate. Then, she goes through a program known as Shopify.
“Through Shopify I downloaded an app called Printify. Printify is where I am able to bring my designs to life using the print provider, Awkward Styles, and post them onto my store,” Clark said.
Finally, Shopify allows her to drop ship the items to the customer.
Shopify also provides models for Clark’s site, which is a very beneficial, professional feature to obtain.
Additional benefits include increased funding, such as what Muscarella received from the university. Muscarella, however, does not like to allot time to specifically brainstorming new ideas as she often hits roadblocks. Instead, she comes up with ideas at more unexpected times.
“I will be doing something or be hanging around friends and get an idea about a social media post or a product that would be cool to make,” Muscarella said. “I try to let it come to me or get inspiration from small things. I also take advice from others because I think it’s really important to listen to your audience and listen to what people have to say.”
In summary, there is no denying that bright futures await each of the young entrepreneurs, given the fact that in just over a few months, they have established brands that are well-known to many on campus. With big plans as well, TwoCups, infearofx and CandaceClark are sure to grow and develop.
“My aspirations for my future would be to work full-time on my site,” said Clark. “I also hope I grow my site enough to hire more people onto my team. I am extremely excited to see where my brand and site take me.”
Hart has even already brought on his roommate, Aaron Greenspan, who is a marketing major as well. Hart said Greenspan has been a huge help and will continue to be a major contributor as time progresses. Hart is confident that TwoCups will develop far beyond Ohio University and gain recognition at universities across the country.
Having a vision while still primarily inexperienced leaves a lot of room to understand and come to the realization regarding what one wants. Muscarella is, as a result, excited for her future. Because of her brand, she knows what she wants out of a career.
“This brand has not only helped me learn what I want to do but has helped me gain experience that will help in so many ways. Learning how to be your own boss, how to time manage, how to create products and market is everything that I’ll need in my future career path,” Muscarella said. “This brand has allowed me to get a head start on what I want to do in life, and I am forever grateful for that.”