Brian Ayers ’14 took Midd Entrepeneurs as a first-year during winter term and knew that he had what it takes to be an entrepeneur.
“In high school I always designed stuff for my lacrosse team and soon I had friends asking me to design stuff for their teams too,” said Ayers.
He realized that with the help of a manufacturer he would be able to profit from his creativity, so he started Ayers Customs.
“After about a year I decided I wanted to do something with the money I had made,” said Ayers, “so I decided to create an inventory.”
Ayers’ latest entrepreneurial venture is a unisex clothing line that strives to appeal to college students. Ayers described the Goodees clothing as preppy in style, but he also had affordability in mind when creating the line.
“I wanted to make it an affordable Vineyard Vines,” he said, “but I don’t want to make the prices so that it’s a social status symbol.”
Ayers wants Goodees to appeal to the college student and has been doing promotional deals for college students in the New England area for the last month. He has student representatives at both the College as well as other institutions on the east coast and uses posters as well as word-of-mouth to market his week-long promotional deals for the school.
“We’re kind of going school by school right now and it’s been working pretty well,” said Ayers. With over 100 online orders in one month, Ayers expects to see sales grow in the next couple of months, especially with his multi-college marketing strategy.
Additionally, Ayers donates five percent of the profits from Goodees to a variety of non-profit organizations that are embroidered on each label.
“It makes it more fun for me to be able to try to make the brand big enough to be able to give back in a meaningful way and actually make a difference instead of only worrying about making money,” he said.
Ayers also donated five baseball caps to the GlobeMed event Friday night at Two Brothers Tavern in town.
Right now, the Goodees products are being manufactured in China, but Ayers hopes to move the operation to the United States soon. “It’s being manufactured in China, but I’m looking to bring it to the States. It’s actually a lot cheaper in China, but I think that bringing it to the States is the right thing to do,” he said.
“I want to make it a classic American line, but I’m always surprised by how many people don’t care whether it’s manufactured in America or China,” he added.
Ayers explained that he has actually had a lot of fun working with China in the manufacturing of his clothes. He used to be up all night during his first winter term at the College, looking for possible manufacturers.
“There’s this one site with an instant messaging service on it and I would be instant messaging with them and I would say that I was the C.E.O. and they knew it was 5 a.m. and would tell me that I work so hard,” he said.
Ayers explains that he looks up all the Chinese holidays so he can email his manufacturer wishing them a great holiday and that they do the same for him. They even emailed him on the fourth of July.
“The one upside of bringing it to the U.S. would be that there would be no language barrier,” said Ayers.
Even though owning his own company adds a lot of stress and work to the Middlebury experience he really enjoys what he does with Goodees.
“Every day there’s a new problem that I have to solve,” he said, “there’s a lot of time management involved. It sometimes gets to the point where I have to decide which email to respond to when I walk between classes.”
He admits that he could not do it without his mom.
“She’s chief operating officer and head of shipping,” he said, “I think she goes to the post office for me about every day now.”