Two Iowa State University juniors are making their dream a reality in a way they didn’t expect. Courtney Johnson and Alex Ritzman, juniors in apparel, merchandising and design, started their own business making custom tees for college students across the US.
Johnson and Ritzman, whose friendship began when they became sorority sisters in Delta Delta Delta, started making the custom tees this August when they were visiting each other in Minnesota.
“We’d been seeing the lace-up tops and we thought, ‘Oh my gosh that’d be so much fun.’ So we made one out on a limb and we didn’t really know how to make it but we just kept practicing until we got it,” said Ritzman.
They already had an Instagram account (@state_style) that they had made to show others their style so they used that account to show off their first shirt.
“We put it on Instagram and one person was like ‘Oh my gosh I need this,’ and it just kept happening and happening and happening,” said Ritzman.
Customers can order the shirts by direct messaging either Johnson or Ritzman on Instagram. After a lot of practice, the women are able to finish a shirt in only 40 minutes so students usually get their orders in less than two weeks.
Their customers started off being sorority sisters, but after the football game that Iowa State played against the University of Iowa, the number of shirt requests they got began to grow greatly. They got requests from college students in Iowa, Colorado, Texas and even California.
“The week of the Iowa vs. Iowa State game I had about 15 orders that week just from Iowa State students,” said Johnson.
Johnson and Ritzman work on their own and buy all of their own supplies. People can either send them shirts that they want done for the price of $25 or they can request Johnson and Ritzman to buy a shirt for them which would cost $40.
The two women are hoping to continue their business for the rest of the football season and into basketball season. Next semester they’ll both be studying abroad in Italy so they plan to take that time off to come up with new designs and get ahead of the fashion trends.
Johnson and Ritzman are unsure what the future holds for State Style, but they hope to find a few apprentices to continue their business after they graduate.
“We’ll have to teach some of our younger sorority sisters how to make them before we leave,” said Johnson.