Equipped with a sewing machine, fabric and pins, College of General Studies freshmen Jeremy Dreyfuss and Zach Sarkis said they have spent the last month comparing fabrics and designing patches with animal images in their Sleeper Hall dorms.
“We want to become known and successful enough to actually help prevent animal extinction,” Dreyfuss said.
The two students founded Species Apparel, a clothing store they said they plan to launch from their dorm rooms to raise funds for the preservation of endangered species.
Sarkis launched a website for Species Apparel that includes updates on the store and the information about endangered species. Nearly 2,000 animal species have made the endangered species list, according to the website.
Dreyfus said that he and Sarkis plan to donate 20 percent of the profit to the World Wildlife Fund. While Species Apparel is still in development, he said that they have set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account to promote the store and its cause.
“So far, we are working on getting the name out there through our Facebook and Twitter pages and website,” Dreyfuss said. “The process of making shirts and mass producing them will be a big time financial investment.”
Influenced by a company called Apliiq, the Species Apparel creators said that they started by buying a sewing machine and fabrics a few weeks before they started the business. While they initially bought the sewing machine just for fun, they said they did not have any experience sewing.
“We watched the video on how to set up the sewing machine at least four times, and it’s a 40-minute video,” Sarkis said.
Sarkis and Dreyfuss said they are beginning with solid white and black shirts with hand-sewn pockets where they will print an image of an animal, though they plan to expand the collection to include various colors.
“Whenever I stop by and they are always asking people’s opinions on different types of fabrics and what we would like to see,” said Bobby Heghmann, a CGS freshman who lives on the same floor as Dreyfuss and Sarkis. “It is really cool to watch because they are all very passionate about the company.”
Dreyfuss said that their initial profits will likely go to start-up costs, but that they hope to expand in time to increase the percentage of profits that support WWF.
“I love that Species Apparel is driven by Zach and Jeremy’s mutual passions for animal rights and unique clothing. You can tell that they’re doing what they love,” said College of Arts and Sciences freshman Meaghan Lang, who also lives on their floor. “It’s fantastic to see how much they can do within the dorm. I hope they get the attention and recognition that they deserve.”
“The process consists of a lot of trial and error to see what works and what doesn’t,” Dreyfuss said. “We are waiting until stuff starts coming out well, which will be really soon. Balancing college classes with this isn’t easy and it has been hard to get us all in the same place because we all have different schedules.”
Dreyfuss named Kim Esquivel, another CGS freshman, as Species Apparel’s primary advisor. He said her knowledge on copyright issues has helped them move forward.
“Everything that Jeremy and Zach are doing is incredible,” Esquivel said. “How many guys do you know who buy a sewing machine on a whim?”
Sarkis said that he and his partner plan to talk to the Green Street Vault, a business that sells apparel from a truck. While he does not know whether the owners will help them, he said he hopes they can provide insight about retail operations.
“I think Species Apparel is a very new and different idea. It has everything it needs to be the next generation clothing,” said Kanishk Pahuja, a College of Engineering freshman. “I feel Species Apparel is going to be big in the near future and I can easily see every other college student wearing the clothes.”