Steve Jobs captured the spirit of entrepreneurship when he said, "Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life...and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary." Senior Business Administration student of the Fermanian School of Business, Carter Rhoad, found this entrepreneurial passion in design and as a result, launched his own business "Loma Apparel" in 2012 as a sophomore student at Point Loma Nazarene University.
Rhoad came to PLNU in the spring of 2012 from Atlanta, Georgia. In search for an answer to why not many students were proudly sporting PLNU apparel, Carter stumbled upon an opportunity. He noticed high prices on clothing and accessories in the campus bookstore and a chance to improve upon the product designs. His primary goals were to fill a need that was not being met by creating products that would not only be affordable but branded well enough to provoke a desire to wear it. Wanting to target both men and women while covering all sizes, a brainstorming session finally led him to what he believed to be the perfect product meeting all his criteria: a now very iconic snapback hat.
He had the vision but very little self-direction as to how to manifest the dream into a reality. Fortunately, Carter is son to a small business owner, a brother to a web developer, a student to experienced professionals, and a friend to skilled business peers. After obtaining the proper business and seller's license, Carter began designing and developing the hat. Finally the hat's production reached its completion during finals week -- a less than ideal time to begin any organized marketing campagins. Instead, Carter handed out a few to his friends and began silently marketing the snapback through simple recognition of the item. After seeing an increasing demand for these hats and inquiries as to where they can be purchased, Carter knew he had created something with great potential for success. In three days, the 100 produced hats were completely sold out at Point Loma's very own library. With all the success, Loma Apparel -- with its upside-down 'A', and lions head logo -- was finally born.
Carter's web developing brother helped in the creation of Loma Apparel's branding and the launch of its official website. "I couldn't do anything without the help of my friends," says Carter, "I'm just so thankful for everything they've done." His team includes 2 graphic designers, an accountant, a web developer, and countless models -- all supportive friends volunteering to help Carter achieve success. And success he is certainly achieving. Carter has been hired to produce shirts for various on campus clubs at a cheaper rate and with better quality than an outside source. Having made sales in two countries and fourteen different states, Carter's latest objective is to expand Loma Apparel beyond just campus life and is currently in the process of figuring out how to brand to reach a larger market. "The most satisfying feeling is seeing strangers who probably have no idea I'm the owner of the brand, walking around wearing my products. That, and just getting a notification on my phone saying someone has just purchased something," says Carter.
With graduation this spring, Carter plans to move to Guatemala. He intends to support a local business that can manufacture his goods, cutting his costs, and allowing him to sell back in the states at an even more affordable rate. Supporting local business is only one way Loma Apparel participates in social responsibility. Loma Apparel donates 10% of sales to 1 of 5 nonprofit organizations with a cause he and his team feel connected to on a personal level -- three local and two international organizations. The customer can choose which organization their purchase will contribute to. To read more on these organizations, visit www.lomaapparel.com/pages/giving-back.
Loma Apparel is sweeping the campus, and apparently a few other places globally. Carter announced 10 new products coming soon, as well as a discounted preordering opportunity. Feeling strongly about the utilization of social media outlets, Loma Apparel consistently offers chances to receive free products through Instagram giveaways. Follow them at @lomaapparel or visit their website, here.
Written by Alicia Wagoner