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T-shirt business sustainably serves campus need

By Sam Vallagomesa     11/12/14 4:35am

Rice students need a huge number of custom T-shirts — for Beer Bike, Orientation Week, public parties, clubs and organizations, and more. With a custom apparel business on campus, Rice students would become independent of outside T-shirt companies like ROJO Ink and CustomInk, and could be directly involved in the design and creation of the apparel so ubiquitous on campus.

During the fall 2013 semester, myself and three other students from Hanszen College took on the task of starting a custom apparel student-run business. We formulated a formal business plan and sought administrative approval to prove the feasibility of operating a business without the help of Rice’s SRB program due to their limited resources. While Rice’s SRB program would eventually absorb our business, we decided we could help students immediately by forming the business during our time at Rice to help fill the ever-present demand.

As we worked to secure our operation space in the Hanszen basement, a large barrier stood between us and proceeding forward: the startup cost. We evaluated the startup cost to be $30,000 due to the large upfront cost (~$20,000) of the garment printer. While this sounds like a massive expense, we believe this business is an investment for Rice as a whole, as students would save money on shirts annually since they would be cheaper than buying them from other custom T-shirt companies. These savings would allow for more student budget flexibility and also provide another outlet for students to work and make an earning through a student-run business. We hope the SA40k will be split among the groups that are vying for it accordingly and can give our apparel business a chance to make a lasting impact at Rice.

Investing these funds in our business will keep Rice unique, independent and unconventional, as always. If you’d be interested in working with our team on this endeavor, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at slv1@rice.edu. We hope the student body is just as interested as we are in seeing truly customized apparel become a reality at Rice, and we would love to hear from you all.

Sam Vallagomesa

Hanszen College junior

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