PatchyTee: Student-Entrepreneurs Put Their Stamp on Midd

By MEREDITH ROBERTSON

COURTESY PHOTO
Marshall Cummings (bottom left), Ryan Feldmann (center) and Will Brossman (right) (all ’21) are student-entrepreneurs and the founders of PatchyTee.

“Rep Yourself” is the mantra of the new lifestyle clothing brand, PatchyTee, which was developed by three Middlebury sophomores this past summer. The start-up specializes in custom, embroidered patches that are designed by various local artists. Over the past few months business has grown exponentially, and they are not only filling campus-wide orders, but are responding to requests for PatchyTees from across the country. 

The company’s co-founders are three best friends, Will Brossman, Ryan Feldmann and Marshall Cummings, all ’21. This “Patchy Teem,” as they call themselves, make and sell comfortable wash-faded t-shirts with iron-on patches. The boys pride themselves on the ability to provide people with unique, high quality products with a retro vibe and a reasonable price. With thick Custom Color shirts and detailed patches, they definitely deliver on this promise. 

“One of my favorite aspects of what we are doing here is how versatile the shirt is, how comfortable it is,” said Brossman. “You can dress it up, wear it to a formal; we’ve seen people skiing in them, people wearing them as pajamas; there’s no limit to what you can do in them.”

The idea behind the business was born in August of 2018, in co-founder Ryan Feldmann’s backyard after the boys noticed a growing popularity in iron-on patches. 

“When Will and Marshall were traveling down the east coast for work over the summer,” Feldman said, “we noticed the patches were becoming a trendy thing — after talking, we thought about making our own custom patches at an affordable price and putting them on shirts to sell ourselves.”

“Put three friends together for the first time in a couple months, and good things will happen,” said Cummings. “Will told us about his new infatuation with patches, and from then on we’ve been rolling.” 

To test out their idea, the boys ordered 100 grey and black shirts, and printed 150 patches that were designed by a local artist and friend in Marin, California. 

By September, the Patchy Teem arrived at Middlebury and hit the ground running, filling orders for these shirts both on campus and off. Only a few months later the boys filled their first group order, designing patches for the Harvard vs. Yale game at Fenway Park. 

“This game was a ton of fun! We got the patch designed by an artist out of UVA, and ordered 200 shirts to sell at a table outside of the stadium,” said Feldmann. “We got there and quickly found out the Harvard SGA was giving out free shirts right near the stadium too… But we did end up selling over half the shirts we brought and had a blast. This first large order definitely taught us a few valuable lessons.” 

In January, the Patchy Teem was enrolled in Midd Entrepreneurs, a J-term class specifically designed to help guide young entrepreneurs in creating businesses or non-profits. The class was co-taught by Dave Bradbury and Sam Roach-Gerber of the Vermont Center for Emerging Technologies. Each week, speakers from local start-ups visited to give advice or answer questions about developing small businesses. At the end of the course, each participant presented in a final pitch competition, with a chance to advance to the LaunchVT collegiate pitch competition and win funding. 

“Midd Entrepreneurs was super helpful for the growth of our company,” said Feldmann. “We were able to get our website built, build a pitch deck for grant competitions and really nail down what we want to represent with our brand. We were also introduced to many other student-entrepreneurs that taught us some valuable lessons that they learned during the making of their own companies.” 

During their participation in the class this J-term, the boys also released their new hat line, adding three suede ball caps with patches to their online store. To date, online inventory has expanded to include two styles, “The Shortie” and “The Longie,” which are available in four different colors. Patch options are updated based on availability, and are not restocked after their release, making each design limited edition. The Pray4Pow, Biking Bears and Pink Grapefruit patches are all currently available online, and can be bought individually as well as on shirts and hats. These patches were designed by Middlebury student and artist, John Henry Hanson ’20.5. 

“We want people to have a shopping experience that merges fashion with affordability and fun,” said Brossman. “Our mission is to get good local artists out there and have fun in the process.” 

You can find PatchyTee on Instagram at @patchytee or online at www.patchyt.com. 

If you are a student-entrepreneur looking to connect with other makers at Middlebury, stop by the Innovation Hub for advising, information on entrepreneur-focused classes or opportunities for work spaces on campus.

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