By Jessica Abbey
For nine years, Jayne Fader, a senior lecturer in the department of family and consumer sciences, had her students create green and gold plaids in the hope that one day Baylor would have an official plaid.
That day has arrived.
Three students in the Accelerated Ventures Program at Baylor started a business centered on the Baylor plaid: Dapper Bear Clothiers.
The Accelerated Ventures Program is a two-semester course in which students are given $5,000 to start their own business.
Lorena senior Hob Howell, the chief marketing officer for Dapper Bear Clothiers, said, “Every school has their official colors and now we have an official plaid.”
Waco senior Jackson Wren and Edmond, Okla., senior Claire Major are a part of the founding trio of Dapper Bear Clothiers. They serve as the chief executive officer and the chief operating officer respectively.
The trio had many options to choose from, but the plaid business idea was a great opportunity.
Major said the group’s personal connection to Baylor played a large part in them choosing it as their business model.
“Once we realized how supportive the Baylor community can be, we knew this was a good idea,” Howell said.
About a year ago, Betsy Robinson, the wife of regent and alumnus C. Clifton Robinson, decided she wanted to develop a Baylor plaid they could trademark.
She wanted to use the plaid to create blankets and other items, whose proceeds could go toward student scholarships. She enlisted the help of First Lady Alice Starr and Fader.
Fader brought the top plaid choices her students had created. They chose the plaid designed by Raleigh, N.C., alumna Hannah Maynard to be the official Baylor plaid.
Maynard created a green and gold plaid in one of Fader’s technology design classes.
“It’s really cool to think something that was going to be sold in the bookstore or was Baylor official was designed by me,” Maynard said. She said she thinks her design stood out because she used thicker stripes and brighter colors. Wren, Howell and Major now sell scarves and ties on their website for their business project. Students and alumni are their target market.
“Word of mouth is a big aspect of our business right now,” Howell said.
Recently, the Starrs have helped them promote their business. They have worn the products to various events, including the San Antonio Women’s Scholarship Dinner. At the scholarship dinner, a tie and scarf were auctioned off, raising a total of $1,650 to go toward student scholarships.
“We would be happy to promote any student business,” Starr said.
She said everyone asks her where she got her Baylor plaid scarf, especially when she wears it to the basketball games. She said whenever the Starrs make a debut in the plaid, it is always mentioned in their speeches. The University Development Office is also working on creating a plaid blanket to release with the new stadium.
“It will be used for tailgating and windy days,” Starr said.
Starr also said she is going to a scholarship dinner this month where she will promote the plaid scarf.
“I’m going to use it as an example of student initiative,” she said. “I think people are impressed by that kind of entrepreneurship.”
Dapper Bear Clothiers began selling scarves in December. Since then they have sold 78 scarves. The ties were just released a few weeks ago, and the group sold 37 ties in the first week of their release.
The group said it has been successful so far and are planning ahead for the future. They anticipate coming out with more products in April that will be less expensive summer items.
Starr said she has big hopes for the future of their company and thinks they can create socks, pants and umbrellas.
“If I were them, I would probably market to other schools,” Starr said. She believes the business plan can work just as well in other markets.
Overall, Starr said she admires the work these students have done in such a short period of time.
They created a business plan, designed a product, ordered samples through various manufacturers, created a website, set up a credit card payment system and created successful marketing campaigns through social media.
“You’re not just learning through a textbook, it’s hands on,” Howell said.
Wren, the CEO of Dapper Bear Clothiers, said it has been a good experience for him.
“I’ve definitely learned more about building a business doing this,” he said. “I feel much more confident if I want to start something else in the future.”
To see the pattern or purchase a product, visit dapperbearclothiers.com.