By Ashley Bowden
James Di Michele, a sophomore business administration manager, created his own clothing line, called KQ about three weeks ago. The name “KQ” comes from the king and queen cards in a standard deck of cards. The theme of the brand is playing cards, reflective of Di Michele’s affinity for poker. He started the business on his own as a result of a class project in his fashion merchandising class during fall 2016. “We had to create a clothing brand, and I created this not expecting it to be a real brand, but decided it was a cool idea.” After designing the logo and putting it on the first couple of products, Di Michele researched and found a website named Printful.com where the clothing could be made for him. “I just posted there, [employees] make it, and they ship it to the customers,” Di Michele explains. “They take a small fee but it is well worth it considering I do zero work and can focus on schoolwork, advertising, or designing more.” He sells mostly hats and tee shirts.
While he doesn’t make the clothing himself, Di Michele is in charge of every other element in running the business, “I do everything. I design it, I put it on the site, I fix all the issues, I designed the website; it’s all me.” The style is meant to be very universal and casual, and his target consumer base is mostly college students as well as anyone who genuinely enjoys card games as much as he does. “Poker is one of my favorite things to watch,” Di Michele said. Gambling for enjoyment was something he grew up with, so the concept of cards holds a special significance and serves as his inspiration towards developing his brand.
“The brand is only about two and a half, three weeks old,” Di Michele said. His costumers have been mostly friends so far. He gains a profit from all of his sales, and so far, the amount he’s earned just about matches the manufacturing costs. Di Michele hopes to grow the business substantially so that by his graduation, it will be a well-known brand. “Right now, it’s more like a startup.” Currently, 13 products are available for purchase on his website, KQApparel.com.
“There aren’t a lot of dedicated card game clothing brands, and the ones that do exist mainly are those that run online casinos,” he explained. These products are more advertisements than independent clothing lines, so Di Michele hopes to be one of the first to create a brand that adheres strictly to the concept. Eventually, he wants to expand his business into retail stores. “I have no training in fashion design. It is just something I am passionate in, two of my favorite things are clothes and art,” Di Michele said. He began with painting on plain white sneakers.
Di Michele’s advice for people looking to start their own clothing line is to, “Start with a theme. Have all of the products be tied together in some way. And then once you have a good customer-base with that theme, expand into something else.” All of his designs reflect the logo he has created through the colors red, black, and white. He explained, “It makes the brand more recognizable.”