“Please move out of the doorway.”
Those six words opened the door for then-sophomores Brayten Bowers and Jackson Ceule.
Bowers and Ceule spent the summer kick-starting their business, and went from being just friends to business partners. Now you can see their T-shirts worn by students walking the halls of East.
It started as a joke — as something to keep them occupied and entertained during seminar. While the two sat in the hall outside room 512 on their laptops messing around on customink.com, designing T-shirts to kill time, they got the request to move out of the doorway. Doorway. It clicked, and it stayed.
Ceule and Bowers started with 24 customized tees, selling for $15 each. After three hours, they had completely sold out.
With their current profit of $400, Ceule and Bowers plan to expand their product margin. Currently, the only product for sale is their white T-shirts with DWC printed across the chest.
In the near future, they plan to put out sweatpants, hoodies, beanies, stickers and more.
“We make sure they are cheap,” Bowers said. “So far we only have three letters on our shirts, it’s not like we are going to make people pay over $15 for that.”
The boys play primarily equal roles in the business, although Bowers accounts for orders while Ceule handles social media promotion.
Advertisement-wise, they are getting publicity from their social media accounts — Twitter and Instagram — as well as self-designed business cards promoting the company. Bowers excitedly talks about their sponsors who include Brooks Brown, Gabe Snyder, Phillip Fuson, Lars Troutwine and more who proudly wear their shirts, getting the name out.
“I feel blessed to be sponsoring Doorway clothing,” Fuson said. “Their T-shirts are pretty much the best.”
The business, however, is not just a two man show. Behind the scenes they have their own personal designer, Junior Eli Kurlbaum. He helps brainstorm ideas for new T-shirt designs as well as helps create their business card. Junior WIll Hembree is working hard to give Doorway a professional and efficient site, while Junior Annie Lomshek has agreed to help the boys with anything regarding photography. Although this is primarily a student run organization, parents must play a role somewhere in this process.
Bowers’ and Ceule’s parents initially looked at the idea of their children starting a T-shirt business as a sort of joke. Bowers’ parents still look at the company as a sort of “phase” or “hobby”. Although, each step further and the bigger this “hobby” becomes, the more they come around to the idea that their children are running their own business.
“Jackson’s parents are supportive about it, but it’s Jackson and I funding the whole thing,” Bowers said. “We don’t have anyone else’s money involved in it; it’s just us two putting in our time and effort.”
The boys explained that it started as something fun, and it turned into a job much more intense and serious than they originally thought. They look forward to pushing the brand out and making their name big in the Kansas City area.
“I feel like a lot of people buy our shirts just because they know Brayten and I, so right now we are focusing on selling to the people that will buy even when they don’t know us,” Ceule said.
Bowers and Ceule are walking through this process without the help of adults, and they admit that it has been difficult at times, but in the end the reward surpasses the challenges.
With their impressive $400 profit so far, they agree that the wad of money is a perk. But walking by a kid wearing a DWC shirt in the hall is what reminds them why this is all worth it.