Despite a policy that restricts independent businesses on campus without administrative consent, Occidental has become a hotbed of entrepreneurial activity in recent years. In 2014 alone, students and alumni channeled their innovative spirits into three burgeoning enterprises.
Last March, Ty Cobb ’14, Adam Pierce Lawrence ’10 and Jake Kahane (senior) started Strolling Wild, a company that sells fun, colorful socks for men.
“[The line] is for the guy who wants to dress well and not take himself too seriously,” Kahane said.
According to Kahane, the company’s goal is not just to sell quality products, but to give their customers an experience. Strolling Wild’s website also includes a lifestyle blog catered toward young adult men, written by the founders and Scott Kulicke ’14. Articles include “How to Handle that Asshole at Work” and “The Modern Man’s Guide to Wearing Colored Pants.”
Strolling Wild’s customer base consists mainly of Occidental students, but they have garnered a large following on social media sites like Twitter and Instagram, with 2,741 and 4,305 followers, respectively. They have sold several hundred pairs of socks, priced at $14 a pair. Looking toward the future, Kahane and his cofounders hope to make Strolling Wild the most accessibly luxurious men’s fashion company in the world.
“That sounds idealistic but that’s what it is. It’s a vision to strive for,” Kahane said. “What sets us apart is our brand. When you think of Nike and Under Armour, they’re the same thing, but when you look at their images that’s what sets them apart.”
More information can be found at strollingwild.com or on Instagram: @strollingwild.
Nate Stern (junior) and Oberlin College student Minh-Jeffrey, both economic majors with a knack for street style, teamed up to launch a pocket tee company in June. They were inspired to start the company in part by Stern’s mother, a clothing and textile artist. Stern, the creative director, deals more closely with the graphics and design aspects of the brand while Minh-Jeffrey handles most of the finances.
Stern created the first prototypes at home on a sewing machine with the help of his mother. Now, Stern brings the designs to a manufacturer in downtown San Francisco for production. The shirts are solid color tees adorned with patterned pockets, colorful cuffs and graphics such as dogs, seashells, polka-dots, palm trees and flowers.
“Pocket tees are easy, simple to produce yet also have a punchy, flashy design,” Stern said. “And looking toward the future, we want to produce a lot more clothing and add in long-sleeve shirts and tanks.”
Subtletees is also a philanthropic endeavor: Five percent of Subtletees’ profits go toward Creativity Explored, a non-profit that provides studio artists with development disabilities a space to create, exhibit and sell their art.
For more information, visit www.subtletees.us or Instagram: @subtleteeus
On an eight-week trip to Rajasthan, India this summer, Emily Linebarger (junior) joined forces with Sunder Rang, a non-governmental organization that sells handmade apparel to bring more income into the small women’s community in which it operates.
Inspired by this experience and armed with her new connections, Linebarger created her own company, Aamili, upon returning to Occidental this year. According to its website, Aamili aims to provide artisans in India an international marketplace for their handmade products, including clothing, purses and jewelry, through an online website. Currently, Linebarger purchases goods from Sunder Rang in bulk to sell through the online website she created.
“I have big hopes for this company because so much scholarship focuses on this kind of connection being the catalyst for social change,” Linebarger said. “I truly believe that small businesses and international connections are the backbone of a strong society and economy.”
Linebarger is also part of an Oxypreneurship initiative in which she advises other students on successful ways to start a business. She is trying to incorporate her role in Oxypreneurship with her own business, and currently employs a team of five Oxypreneurship members: Reed Foster (first-year), Brooke Barry (first-year), Yuca Kosugi (senior)*, Aidan Holliday (first-year) and Ronald Chan (first-year).
*Yuca Kosugi is an editor for the Occidental Weekly.