Students dress as T-shirt entrepreneurs

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By: Marty Nemec, Contributing Writer

 

While most students just try to get by in class, the owners of Dressed to a T also handle running their own business.

 

Dressed to a T, a student-run company based out of Fleming Island, screen-prints designs on a multitude of items ranging from shirts to cups.

 

UNF students Garrett Bryan and Yemi Olaogun and non-UNF students Wale Olaogun and Chase Behee founded the company. The home operation is based nearly 40 minutes away from the UNF campus.

 

“We work out of the garage, which is a little tight at times, but we make it work,” said Bryan, a UNF electronic media junior.

 

Bryan and the Olaogun brothers enjoyed working at a screen-printing shop together, and when that company closed, they decided to combine their resources and continue the work. So, they formed their own company.

 

“We wanted to continue that passion as the owner didn’t, so we decided to buy the equipment and started our own corporation,” Bryan said.

 

The fact that the owners are still in college creates some challenges for them.

 

“It’s pretty tough,” Bryan said. “College in itself is a full-time job.”

 

Bryan and the Olaogun brothers said it takes a lot of commitment and effort to earn good grades, maintain relationships with the customers and make the products on time.

 

Yemi Olaogun, a UNF Accounting senior, said on an average weekday he wakes up at 5:30 a.m. and reports to his first job at Crowley by 7:30 a.m. After work, or while he is on his lunch break, he usually goes to a warehouse to pick up items for Dressed to a T. Then he goes to the house and works until the end of the day.

 

 

Economic challenges


Bryan feels in touch with the economic difficulties that arise from starting a company. He said the economy forces the company to focus on prices.

 

The consumers don’t have as much money to spend, and the company has to sacrifice profits to accommodate their needs, he said.

 

“We try to lower our prices even if we don’t make as much money up front,” Bryan said. “We’re trying to really reach out to the community.”

 

Bryan said customers have screen-printing shops they already use and prefer, even if they produce mediocre products. It’s important for Dressed to a T to reach its customers because Bryan believes his company can provide a better product at a better price.

 

Bryan also said the economy’s current state forces Dressed to a T to lower its prices and to work with the customers in terms of selling lower quantities and providing drawn-out payment plans.

 

He said the company is willing to do this to win the support of new customers.

 

The goods


Despite all the challenges, running a student-owned business has its perks.

 

Yemi Olagun said studying accounting has helped him with Dressed to a T. He said the Coggin College of Business requires its students to take multiple classes dealing with marketing and management, and he’s been translating his coursework into running the company.

 

Bryan said the knowledge he gained in the communication field has helped extensively in dealing with the customers.

 

All four of the members are in agreement that the responsibility and effort involved in running a business while still in school is an unrivaled experience that is preparing them for the real world.

 

Regarding the future, the company remains optimistic and realistic.

 

Bryan said in the future, the members would like to not only offer just screen-printing but embroidery and bumper stickers, among other products. He said right now, the company needs to continue what it’s doing and build a solid customer base.

 

Wale Olaogun said most of its business is gained through word of mouth, but the company has invested a good amount of time into social networking sites, and he hopes to start gaining new customers through them.

 

“We’re a very small business, so we’re just trying to get our name out there,” Wale Olaogun said.

 

“But we would like to eventually be the screen-printer of Jacksonville.”

 

Photos by Erin Ostrowsky

 

More information on Dressed to a T can be found on dtoat.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Email Marty Nemec at [email protected]