Student takes Chance, starts (and ends) t-shirt company


Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Using the image of Chance the Rapper, junior student John Hwang created t-shirts that he sold to classmates.

by Luke Brangaccio, Staff Writer

The drastic rise in Chance the Rapper t-shirts is no coincidence. It’s actually one of Glen Rock’s own showcasing his artistic ability and his keen eye for potential profit.

Junior John Hwang is taking the school by storm with his homemade t-shirts, selling at $15 a pop. This clothing can’t be found at any store or kiosk, instead you can track him down at school. He’s that long haired kid you’ve been seeing carrying a plastic bag.

“It was a really quick idea, it just kind of just happened. I was like ‘I have no money right now, and I kind of need it, so…supply and demand, kids in Glen Rock have a lot to spend,” Hwang said.

While one may infer that the process requires lots of thought and planning, it turns out to be quite the opposite.

The first step of this process was to determine the designs on the t-shirts, which came quickly and easily to Hwang. Being an avid hip-hop fan, many of Hwang’s designs are logos or symbols for a rapper or a specific song. Some of the artists he drew inspiration from in the first batch of shirts were Joey Bada$$, Kanye West and Chance the Rapper.

Chance the Rapper’s iconic “3” logo has also yielded Hwang the most sales.

“I just made things that I thought looked cool to me, personally. Not a lot of time went into each one, maybe max 40 minutes each,” Hwang said. He has a knack for graphic design, and has taken a course for it at school.

The next step is the actual production of the shirts. Unfortunately, designs alone won’t make any money, so Hwang needed shirts, and lots of them. After a $200 investment from a close friend, he bought his first batch, a proper printer, and got to work. 

Finally, it was time for the last step: selling. His first batch contained Chance the Rapper, Joey Bada$$ and Kanye, along with a custom Samurai shirt, each selling for $15. Luckily for John, many of his close friends played the parts of the first customers, providing him with a stable client base. He still had lots of work to do, however, and a whole school’s worth of buyers to approach.

“Selling is stressful because you’re basically going out of your comfort zone and being an A-hole, like just going up to people and bothering them,” Hwang said.

Over the course of a couple weeks, Hwang successfully sold multiple batches of shirts and added to the wardrobes of many students. He also took his product to Teen Arts and managed to sell plenty of shirts there. He says selling in an environment like this where he knows people have money on hand is far easier than in school.

Unfortunately, Hwang has since discontinued his brand but there’s a lot to be learned from what he did. Deciding to design, print, and sell t-shirts on campus is something that one might never expect a student to do, yet it proved to be successful.

Lots of work went into this process, and Hwang himself even admitted to being overwhelmed at some points, but working through the stress and the doubt definitely paid off.

Hwang’s shirts were very well received with students all around the school. Junior Josh Quiat, was particularly fond of his product.

“I think it’s good for him, and the school, because he makes money, and we get shirts, you know?” Quiat said.

Hopefully, this business will inspire people to manufacture their own products, and show the school what they have to offer. After all, students here are in the building for around 40 hours a week, if not more, and not all of this time is spent on academic activities. There is downtime available for students, whether it be during lunch or option, that can certainly be occupied productively.

“If you’re good at something, don’t do it for free!” Hwang said. “Always try to find a way to benefit from your skills.” Clearly a fan of capitalism, Hwang’s words can be applied to selling items in school in the sense that one has two ways to benefit in this situation: They can gain money, and see their work in the wardrobes of students they see everyday.

These t-shirts might not inspire the whole school to try their luck with their own products, but hopefully Hwang’s success can show the school that there is money to be made and creativity to be recognized in each and every one of us if the effort is put in.

Now, it’s time for another brave student to step up and show the school what they have to offer. Hwang did it, and so can any of us.