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HBCU grads create fedora business (650 hits)

Archie Clay and Tajh Crutch both grew up with a passion for fashion. But when they went to college, they pursued alternate paths: Clay going on to a career in human resources and Crutch in information services.

After they met at an Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity event, they bonded over their love of fashion. Several years later, Clay called Crutch with an idea to take their passion to the next level and actually start their own fashion brand making fedoras.

“He reached out to me and said, ‘Hey man, I see you like fedoras. I like fedoras, but it’s so hard to find fedoras that you really like, so maybe we should make our own fedoras,’” Crutch said. He said he didn’t take his friend seriously at first, thinking it was one of those ideas that gets people excited but doesn’t go anywhere. Then Clay called back and said that he was serious, and he had a manufacturer and a fabric supplier lined up.
So Brims was born in 2017.

“Fashion is oversaturated,” Clay said. “You have to have that right item to really make a staple. You have to find a niche, and we thought, ‘What’s that niche for us?’ There weren’t that many fedora lines at the time.”

Clay and Crutch went to schools that were far apart: Clay to Tuskegee University and Crutch to Troy University – both in Alabama, but they kept in touch on social media.

Both lamented being able to find a fedora that really expressed their style, and both would customize their hats where necessary. Clay said he’s had an interest in fashion since his dad was a model for Calvin Klein and his mom used to dress him in fashionable outfits.
“I think that’s where my swagger came from,” he said.

Crutch said his family had a similar love of fashion, and his sister even graduated from fashion art school. “I kind of picked it up as a hobby,” he said. “My parents always dressed me nice and made sure I looked presentable. They told me, ‘You never know who you’re going to meet, so you should always look presentable.’” He was voted best dressed throughout his school years.
It seemed like a natural fit for Clay and Crutch to come together and create their own line. But they both wanted to test the idea first and make sure it had legs before they jumped all in.
“As young entrepreneurs, we do have a great product, but in the beginning, people don’t know that you’re passionate about what you do. You have to convince them that you’re passionate,” Clay said.

They started the company with a small run, selling their hats online at www.wearbrims.com and in small, boutique shops around Atlanta, where they now live. Eventually, the men – both 29 – want to expand their young company, using the fedoras as a toehold in the fashion world so they can introduce items like other accessories and ready-to-wear clothing. They want to be in 10 to 15 retail stores by the end of the year, and they will have their first ready-to-wear pieces available for sale this fall.

“We also are just dabbling into outerwear and different accessories that will make your outfit pop,” Crutch said. “Sometimes one little piece or item can make a big difference.”
You can find out more about the company on Facebook and Instagram under @Wearbrims.

by Maria Magher, Correspondent

Posted By: Elynor Moss
Thursday, August 1st 2019 at 8:49PM
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