Student-operated T-shirt companies find succcess

Lauren McCarthy

Where do you buy most of your T-shirts? American Apparel? J. Crew? Well, for a growing number of Villanova students, the answer is, “From that kid in my 10 a.m. class.” Over the past two months, Villanova has seen the birth of two entirely student-operated T-shirt companies. And these two companies have more than their product in common; both are run by very ambitious first-year men.

The first two male entrepreneurs did not exactly meet at Villanova. You could say that their first encounter was a bit more tropical.

“I was in St. Thomas, and I was on the beach at 2 a.m.,” freshman Taylor Halsted says. “I saw two kids, and I just yelled: ‘Yo, what’s up!'”

What Halsted soon discovered was that one of these strangers, Chris Wilson, was also going to be attending Villanova in the fall of 2008. Wilson and Halsted decided to keep in touch and quickly became good friends once school started. The duo soon came up with the idea to start designing and creating shirts for their new classmates.

“We thought that if you put the word ‘fun’ in words, it would be a cool idea,” Halsted says. “We asked our friends, and they all thought it would be a good idea, and they helped us come up with new ideas.”

And thus, Fun. Clothing Company was born.

Fun. Clothing Company’s designs are based on one simple word: fun. Each shirt features a different phrase that is a play on the word. Halsted creates the graphics on a computer program.

The company’s marketing scheme is very simple, yet effective.

“Our Facebook group was our first official thing,” Wilson says. “We’re now thinking of getting a stand in Stanford.”

Now on their second round of designs, the two are already thinking about expanding into an empire.

“We have huge ideas,” Halsted says. “I even crocheted a hat that says ‘fun.’ on it.”

However, there is one thing that you will never see them selling.

“No ‘funderwear,'” Wilson says. “That is actually a company already. We checked.”

So with no prospect of one day selling their own line of underwear, why do they do it? After all, they are still regular students with their own workload, in addition to this budding business. Halsted and Wilson do not view their business as work but, rather, as pleasure. “It’s fun; it’s simple; it works for us,” Wilson says.

Halsted wholeheartedly agrees with his business partner.

“We get to wear them too, which is cool,” he says. “We get to do whatever we like. We are the demographic.”

Fun. Clothing Company definitely takes their name to heart when it comes to everything that they do.

Fun is not something that is lacking when it comes to the men of Crosswalk. Jonathan De Martino, Joe Kelly, Mark Lattanzio, Dan Sacchetta and Chris Spina certainly know the importance of working hard but being happy while doing so.

“We’re not about making money; we’re about having a good time,” Lattanzio says.

Kelly founded the Crosswalk company after dreaming about starting a T-shirt company in high-school. He decided college was the perfect time to start a business.

“[It is] a four-year opportunity to do anything,” he says.

Lattanzio immediately jumped aboard the plan once he heard Kelly’s ideas. Lattanzio knew De Martino from his Orientation group, and his artistic talent immediately made him the company designer. Spina and Sacchetta soon joined the crew to finalize the Crosswalk team.

The designs of Crosswalk are simple yet innovative. Each shirt takes the iconic figure from the crosswalk lights and features him in various get-ups. Past designs have featured him as a beauty queen and a devil, among others. The boys originally launched with four designs, which took them about a month to produce. The team meets four nights a week for a couple of hours to work on their business. They are currently on their second round of designs, finding the process to be much easier this time around. When they aren’t working on making new merchandise, they are showing off their inventory to interested students.

“We can almost always be found in Stanford Hall with a couple of shirts,” Kelly says.

However, don’t think that they will be dressing up the crosswalk guy on T-shirts for the rest of their lives.

“T-shirts are just a launching ground, just as Villanova is just a launching ground,” Kelly says.

The team has high hopes for the future, but for now, they are still enjoying their current achievement.

“There is nothing more gratifying then walking through campus and seeing one of your shirts,” Kelly says.

So before you hop on the shuttle to King of Prussia to purchase your next new T-shirt, perhaps you should reconsider. The next great American casual wear designer may be living right on South Campus.

After all, the first Life is Good T-shirts were sold exactly in this manner at Villanova. So consider your shirt an investment and think about all of your future bragging rights.