Sam Brody did not set out to create a campus-wide fashion phenomenon. No, the inspiration for his clothing company Werd Apparel came quite by surprise.
In 2010, nestled in a pew at Shove Chapel, freshman Brody watched with rapt attention as aspiring designers, studio art majors and charismatic cloth-drapers sent friends down the runway. He instantly wanted to be one of them.
Four years later, Brody has parlayed his fashion sensibilities into a clothing LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) with a line of popular tanks and apparel. The senior is a fashion show mainstay with accessible and attractive designs.
“I decided the easiest and steeziest place to start was tank tops,” Brody remarked on the origins of his business. One of the original designs was the “CC tank,” where Brody adapted the Colorado flag for CC.
“I received a lot of offers for it and compliments, and [I] decided I’d just print 60 or so and see what happened,” Brody said. “The design and shirt blew up and the rest was pretty much history.”
Recognizable everywhere on campus for their bold yet simple design, the “CC Tanks” are a cheeky play on the state flag that most students know and love. A white stripe underlies two Colorado Cs, each encircling an orange sun. The tanks themselves are blue. The concept is simple and innovative.
The design is popular enough to sell itself. “Most people don’t know I sell them, but they do know the shirt,” Brody remarked.
The entrepreneur has not felt the need to implement much of an advertising or social media campaign.
According to Brody, “The ones doing the advertising are all my friends and people who have bought the shirts, rocking them while playing IM’s, slacklining, longboarding, climbing mountains and in general being awesome.”
“My classmates are the ones that make [the tanks] cool,” he said.
Student clothing enterprises are not necessarily new to Colorado College. Several seniors from the class of 2010 founded StatusBro while still undergraduates and popularized the “Bro” lifestyle with specialty apparel, koozies and an eponymous blog. Current junior Taylor Rastello has also found notoriety on campus with his Tiger Tanks label.
When asked if he ever feels pressure from competitors such as Rastello in the small and somewhat saturated campus market, the entrepreneur demurs.
“We’re good homies,” Brody quipped, “I wouldn’t call it competition.” An inherently Colorado College answer.
In fact, the Colorado College climate goes a long way to nurture this small company. In addition to a receptive student body and robust tank market, Brody has found his academic experience to be invaluable. He is presently enrolled in Entrepreneurship, a 300-level Economics class.
The class has “single-handedly been an immense influence on my company, and really, my entire education here at CC. It’s been life-changing,” Brody remarked.
Offered second block by Economics Professor Jim Parco and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Steve Kaczmarek, the course aims to cultivate student enterprises.
“[The professors] have created an environment where [the students] are continually being challenged to progress and adapt our business ideas,” Brody said. “They have provided us with unbelievable speakers and a network that wants nothing more to help aspiring entrepreneurs.” And as with many classes at CC, the past few weeks have been incredibly formative.
“At the beginning of this block, Werd Apparel was just a name I called myself with very little direction or idea of what it was,” Brody mused. “Now, Werd Apparel is a limited liability corporation (LLC) with a website, social media accounts and scarily, paying taxes.”
Brody produces his apparel using local artists at Tayco Screen Printing. The profitable business has expanded to include tanks, t-shirts and snapbacks.
“I’m not a huge fan of typical block letter, school-color-on-everything-ever approach to apparel that you see in college bookstores across the U.S.,” Brody said. His alternative, a revolutionary approach to collegiate apparel, is helping bring in new investors.
Brody is presently designing for schools across Colorado and the West. He hopes to have an eventual presence on 20 to 25 campuses nationwide.
For many seniors, planning past graduation can be daunting. For Brody, it is all part of the business model.
“I hope to be doing this full time by the time I graduate in the spring,” the entrepreneur said. Werd to that.