by Bella Gerard
The first time we saw the eye-catching, unique pocket tees from North by South, we were hooked. We sat down with the brains behind the brand, Georgetown senior Matt Aronson, and found out more about the company’s origin and what it’s like being a student who runs his own business.
TS: Hi, Matt! To get started, tell us a little about the brand.
MA: We offer tees with pockets made from necktie material, so the idea is to mix formal wear with casual clothes and allow people to dress up while dressing down. We have a lot of different shirt colors and tie patterns, and the purchasing process is completely customizable [HV note: it’s true – the site is interactive, and we’ve spent hours picking out different combinations]. We really aim to give customers the freedom to be able to express their individual style. The brand is all about looking and feeling good in your everyday clothing.
TS: Where did you get the idea for the company?
MA: The idea was a product of my environment here at Georgetown. I saw that a lot of students on campus wore nice, preppy clothing like pocket tees, but also really liked getting dressed up for formal events. I thought the combination of those two concepts would be pretty cool, and the pocket tee was a great vehicle for this combination. Additionally, the market for pocket tees is fairly new, with a few successful companies recently established that have a similar business model as North by South.
TS: Where did the brand name “North by South” originate?
MA: I was born and raised in North Carolina, but the majority of my relatives are from Boston, so I identify with both the laid-back luxury of the South and the cutting-edge class of the North, which I thought tied in well with the combination of casual and formal clothes.
TS: How did you begin taking steps to make it a reality?
MA: It took almost two years to bring the idea into a fully operational business, mainly because I had to find the right partners to make each facet of the business a real possibility. We made a few prototypes with shirts and neckties lying around the house, and I wore them every now and then during my junior year. The reaction was great, which gave me support to keep pushing forward. We found the legal assistance to incorporate a LLC for structure and also file a patent application for the design of using necktie material for a shirt pocket (currently patent pending). We then found companies to partner with for blank shirts, relabeling, and also brand management assistance for marketing and website construction/maintenance. The last missing piece was the tie materials and a centralized location for inventory, manufacturing, and shipping. We were very fortunate to find a local company in North Carolina to help us with this last step. Once we had all of our partners, we were able to launch last November and begin offering our first selection.
TS: Has the reception been positive?
MA: The reception has been great so far. We did a pre-launch promotion during Homecoming last fall, giving out shirts to 8-10 friends of mine to wear around campus and at the tailgate that day. People loved the shirts and also gave me good feedback for moving forward. We’re currently taking this time to create plans for the warm weather of the spring and summer when we hope to have a greater presence on campus.
TS: What’s it like running a successful business as a student?
MA: Running a business as a student is tough but also a lot of fun. Things pop up along the way that you don’t always have much experience with, but you have to deal with it the best you can. I’m always working on something related to the company whenever I find some time between classes, late at night, or on holiday breaks. The most difficult part is being engaged with school here in DC while having different parts of the business happening elsewhere in the country. However, the hard work is very rewarding when you’re working on something of your own that you really believe in.
TS: Where/How are you getting all these ties?!
MA: The ties come from a great local company in Randleman, NC called Salem Neckwear. It’s run by two older gentlemen who are brothers, and they offer really unique designs. From the beginning, they understood the concept and really believed in the product and company. I’ve been very fortunate to find such a great partner to offer the necktie pockets, manufacture the shirts, store inventory, and ship out shirts all from one location. I love working with such good-hearted people and also enjoy supporting the local economy in NC in any way that I can.
TS: Why do you think GU students should invest in North by South tees?
MA: I think our t-shirts fit really well into the attire of Georgetown students. Students here dress very well and like to express their individual styles. I really wanted to build a brand that Georgetown students wanted to identify with, and since North by South only came about because of the inspiration I found here at Georgetown, our shirts are tailor-made for our campus. We put an emphasis on giving back by using local partners and we even made our logo colors blue and gray, so Georgetown really is in our DNA.
TS: What’s your favorite T-shirt color/Tie pocket combination?
MA: I love all of the combos, so it’s tough to choose, but if I had to pick one I would go with the Southern Sands pocket on a black t-shirt. I think that combo has a pretty fresh, classic look to it.
TS: What’s next for North by South?
MA: North by South is only a few months into operations so we have a lot coming in the next year or two. Currently, we’re expanding a network of campus representatives to push our brand by word-of-mouth and social media. We’re also beginning SEO marketing on Google, looking for organizations who want to do individualized group t-shirt orders, and working on promos like a Countdown to Spring discount. We’re just getting started and looking to grow, slowly but surely. In the years ahead, we might look to license with a larger company to expand our reach or we might continue to grow on our own, but right now we’re just having fun sharing our brand and our Shirt & Ties.
Check out North by South by visiting their website & following their social media:
- Website: http://northbysouthapparel.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-by-South/1478377025778851?fref=ts
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/NxSApparel
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/NxSApparel