By Courtney Llewellyn
Nick Ashe, 16, works out of a home office on Oh Fluck! Apparel. The first shirt he released was so popular, he had to order a second batch to meet the demand. Get a glimpse of one of Ashe's first designs at the end of the article.|
Reminder Publications photo by Courtney Llewellyn
Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW In this modern culture, uniqueness is prized. A band wants to have an original sound; a chef wants a signature dish; designers want to be trendsetters.
Nick Ashe falls into the last category.
The jocular East Longmeadow High School sophomore, 16, is the mastermind behind Oh Fluck! Apparel, a new line of clothing that he produces himself. His first order, 36 T-shirts, sold out during its presale stage.
"I thought Oh Fluck! would be racy," he said of his company's name. "I thought teens would like it."
Oh Fluck! Apparel is Ashe's first venture into mass producing shirts. His first foray into clothing was via Your T-Shirt Apparel, which he started a year and a half ago. He was making individual T-shirts then, with designs people brought to him.
"I had bought a heat press online and started taking orders from my friends," he said. He bought both the press and a vinyl cutter with money he had saved up, and was soon also making motocross jerseys.
When he decided to move onto bigger things, he sold that equipment and used the proceeds to obtain a wholesale license from the Department of Revenue.
"When I first started making T-shirts, I did everything myself," Ashe explained. "I learned a lot of things ... I wanted to do something that would appeal to more than one person."
Ashe came up with the basic idea for Oh Fluck! Apparel's first shirt, the "THUG," but felt his design could be tweaked by someone with more artistic skill. He brought in his friend, Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter Public School student Julie Merino, to put the finishing touches on the design.
Once he had the design done, Ashe got to work searching for T-shirt printers online.
"I got quotes from 10 printers, and I felt good about this one in Alabama," he said. His first order, the 36 T-shirts in red, green and dark blue, arrived the day of the presidential inauguration from Mammoth Print Shop in Auburn, Ala.
Ashe was proud to report that he sold the shirts from his first order to "friends, family, people online ... and people I don't even know." The appeal of his first shirt was widespread. It also led to him ordering 24 more shirts of the same design, which sold out almost as quickly as the first batch.
"[The THUG shirt is] unlike any T-shirt I have in my collection," customer Kelsey Rahilly said. "The design is creative, edgy, bright and so unique. You rarely see a shirt with the gold foil print which captures your attention. Along with a great fit, the shirts are so comfortable, everyone will want to show theirs off. There's nothing I don't like about my shirt."
The young entrepreneur is hoping to release a new shirt design every month, and he's looking for designers to work with him for the future.
"As the designs evolve, I will most definitely purchase more from Nick in the future," Rahilly said.
Ashe also wants potential customers to know that all his shirts are made and printed in America.
"I'm not sure I want to put my stuff in stores if I can be successful with it online," he said. "I want my pricing and quality to be beneficial to all."
Ashe said he hopes to keep Oh Fluck! Apparel running as long as he can, and believes that he eventually wants to go to college for business.
The clothing industry is only a stepping stone for Ashe's real passion, however -- he someday wants to own his own record label.
"I figure if I make T-shirts for bands, I can get in with them and hopefully they'll sign with me," he joked.
There is an Oh Fluck! Apparel group on Facebook, and for more information on the line, visit www.myspace.com/ohfluckapparel.
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