Although Gators love neon, they also have a preppier side. This can certainly be seen on game days and when grabbing brunch downtown. From Lilly Pulitzer sundresses and skirts for girls to polo shirts, croakies, and above-the-knee pastel shorts for guys, University of Florida students dress for the Florida lifestyle – and heat! There are tons of stores and websites that sell preppy gear, but new cute brands seem to pop up every day that have a new spin on a classic style. Although it is easy to find clothes, finding clothes that are of high quality for a decent price is a bit more challenging.
Sometimes when there is nothing to meet your needs, you have to make it yourself. At least, that’s how it seemed to Andrew Mease of the emerging lifestyle brand, Gulf Shore. “After having polo shirts that pill after 5-6 washes or polo shirts that continued to shrink after many washes I decided that I wanted to make clothing that people could enjoy wearing without having to worry about quality issues.”
Mease and his fraternity brother came up with the idea of launching a clothing company in 2008, but it was not a good time to enter the market, so they postponed their dream until they had more time and money to invest in their company. As Floridians, their goal was to create clothing that would be durable and comfortable to wear in warm weather, while keeping true to the areas they grew up in around the Gulf of Mexico. Their ties to Florida were part of the reason why they selected the Red Snapper as their logo. Another reason was that “just as the Red Snapper stands out in a school of fish, they want you to stand out from the rest of the crowd.” The Gulf Shore team took a steady approach to starting up their company by putting out timeless favorites like polo shirts, t-shirts, and hats, but now after a successful beginning is working on six new product lines.
The owners of Gulf Shore have learned a lot from starting a company right after college. As many collegiettes aspire to be involved in the fashion world, they have shared a few words of wisdom for us to consider when dreaming about creating our own brands:
- You need passion. “Starting your company takes a lot of work and a lot of capital. If you are starting up your own company, you will need to have passion and a firm belief in what you are doing.”
- You have to do the research and put in the time. “Starting your own company takes lots of time and lots of research. When starting up a business, expect things to cost more and take longer than expected. We spent one year developing our polo shirt and choosing our company name and logo. There are so many details that go into each individual product, along with a large variety of materials to use for products. Learning about the different fabric types, weights, and designs may take some trial and error unless you went to school for it or you have some prior experience.”
- Reach out to others.“Connections greatly help when starting up your own company. By contacting family members we found that we had much more opportunities than we originally anticipated.”
- Bring something unique to the business, but be ready to compromise.“Having a business partner usually helps if you have a full time job. When adding a business partner, make sure they have traits that compliment yours. Having two of the same exact person doesn't always help because you don't get a large variety of ideas or outlooks. Every time you add another owner to your company, it can add complications and make decisions more difficult to reach.”
If your goal is to break into the fashion world, now is the time to set things into motion. Try to take advantage of all the advice and opportunities available to you as a college student! There are tons of companies looking for campus representatives or summer interns, so start applying for next year! Have a great, productive summer, UF collegiettes!