"Everyone is capable of greatness and we inspire greatness in the everyday man," said Idris Shineba, one of four founders of Upperthinking LLC, a new clothing line that stresses not only excellence in clothing but in day to day life as well.
Created in 2011 by four undergraduate students that took a leap of faith with their own money, Upperthinking’s founders became the first generation of business owners in their families. Following in the footsteps of greats such as Frederick W. Smith, founder of Fedex, and Michael Dell, of Dell computers, the students of Upperthinking LLC thought college would be the perfect time to start up company and see how far it goes.
Putting up roughly $1,500 each to start the company, the leaders of Upperthinking LLC had an idea in mind and went after their goal. “We didn't care about the economy," said Bobby Chungong, the company's marketing director, who believes the key inspiration for starting the business at a time when other companies were failing was the need to "follow through" with their vision until it was a reality.
Pulling inspiration from everything from sports to campaign ads, Upperthinking LLC now fills orders from Maryland to California. The clothing company, which began with seven test products has in one year grown into the full-fledged business it is today complete with an official website to place orders and a blog not only on clothing but social issues as well. "Starting something of your own is rewarding," said Tobi Bello, co-founder from the senior business major at University of Maryland, College Park. "It was something we used to do for fun in fashion shows, and as we got older we realized our majors fit perfectly with running a business."
Becoming an entrepreneur to not only follow his own dreams, but have something tangible to pass down to his future family, Shineba, originally from Lagos,Nigeria is now a graphic design major at Morgan State University. "When you work under somebody in a nine to five, you're building someone else's legacy," said Shineba, who had dreams of owning his own company since his teen years in high school.
While struggling financially during and even after the undergrad years is a common theme for most, not all college students have money readily accessible to start a business. In efforts to help entrepreneurs in college, organizations such as the Small Business Association offers programs geared specifically to helping young business owners such as the Income Based Repayment plan, that helps students balance repaying loans while securing lines of credit to launch their dreams of owning and operating a company.
More than just a clothing line, Upperthinking LLC branched out into the community in their first year by raising money through happy hours for charities such as US AID and area schools. In 2012, the company seeks to to do even more with the community across the state.
"Stay inspired," says Bob Chungong, Upperthinking LLC's marketing director from Prince George's Community College, "whether it’s creating your own clothing line, becoming an entrepreneur or doing well in school, we just want to do as much as we can to inspire people." For more information on Upperthinking LLC visit www.upperthinking.com.