CHRISTIAN REDMOND ’20 | OPINION EDITOR •
Every student at Wabash understands the struggle of juggling the rigorous coursework, fulfilling networking opportunities, participation in clubs and athletics, making a name for oneself in his respective field of study, and a lively social life. These cornerstones of Wabash student activities are enough to fill up the schedule and bog down the mind. However, there are students who take on even another load of responsibility: a business venture.
James Despain ’22 operates Fly Kicks, a clothing brand. “I started at the beginning of August this year,” said Despain. “It is something I have wanted to do for the past couple of years. I had an internship for the CIBE this summer and it really sparked my inspiration to get this going.” Fly Kicks released their first t-shirt a few weeks ago, and Despain plans to release a second soon. Despain’s vision for Fly Kicks is to eventually release a collection of clothes while operating community programs, similar to the event he did this past summer. Despain coordinated the Kicks for Kids outreach event where Fly Kicks donated 60 t-shirts and 20 pairs of shoes to the Boys and Girls of Montgomery County.
Jacob Obst ’22 likes to manifest his creativity through his two ventures, a logo design business and a clothing brand, Chic Swank. Obst is a self-taught logo designer and uses his skills to make profit by designing logos for other businesses. “I started making edits in high school and eventually taught myself to make logos,” said Obst. “I made logos for my dad’s business and that allowed me to start branching out to other businesses around me.” Obst enjoys making logos for people. “It allows me to show off my creativity and I just like helping people make their ideas come to life.” Obst’s other hustle is his clothing brand, Chic Swank. While the clothing brand is not too far off the ground yet, Obst has always been passionate about clothing designs and will eventually jumpstart the venture.
Isaac Avant ’20 owns Hooked Clothing Company. Avant runs Hooked along with a t-shirt distribution company where he prints and embroiders t-shirts. “The reason I started Hooked is that I had an internship that I got through Wabash the summer after my freshman year,” said Avant. “There, I learned how to print t-shirts and design through software.” Avant posted one of his designs onto Twitter to show his followers, and the rest is history. “The tweet blew up and got about 2,000 retweets. From there, I decided I needed to branch out and start my own business.” On top of everything going on with his academic and athletic life, Avant opened up a line of credit to purchase the equipment needed to print and distribute the clothing on his own. “I started making designs for Indianapolis to give the people who live there a sense of pride in their city.” Hooked Clothing Company has been running strong for two years, and Avant just branched out to making designs for Atlanta this past summer. People can check out and purchase Avant’s work at hooked317.bigcartel.com.
David Riggs ’20 runs a three-service marketing agency called AKZmedia. The agency offers three main services: website redesign and creation, paid media through Facebook and Google, and content marketing strategies. He works with various companies, ranging from real estate brokers in Carmel and Fishers to large ecommerce shops to nonprofits in the downtown Indianapolis area. “I read a book by Mark Cuban about four years ago that said you should always try to live on the lesser of your two incomes,” said Riggs. “So, if you have two or more revenue streams, you should try to live off of your lesser one and keep the rest for profit.” Riggs says he has no intention of doing only one thing for the rest of his life. AKZmedia is one of his three revenue streams at the moment. “I am trying to make things right now to be where anything I do with my media marketing agency would be my base income. So, month-over-month, anything I need to do for car insurance, housing, food, entertainment, is covered by this and anything I make from my full time job would go straight into my bank account.” Riggs started his journey into the marketing world by setting up the social media accounts for his father, who is in public policy. “Learning about the strategy and content about what makes a personal brand, what makes people interact with a public figure, got me really interested in marketing in general.” Riggs talks about understanding the back-side of a business, or the service provided, but also knowing about the front-side, or how the business is seen by the world. Eventually, Riggs wants to build what he calls “business self-sufficiency.” This will allow him to shut off his computer for a couple weeks and not worry about the company. “I think that too many people in the startup world have an idea and instantly become an employee to their own idea,” said Riggs.
These four men have already started on something that most people only dream to do.