T Shirt Business

Student Starts T-Shirt Business

Most college students take advantage of their free time by watching Netflix, heading to happy hour, or taking a well-deserved nap. Not many can say that they design their own t-shirts and run a successful online shop in the time that they have between classes and schoolwork. Not many, that is, except for Jerry Salvatore.

Salvatore, a senior business finance student, has been designing and selling his own t-shirts since he was a senior in high school. “I didn’t really like things that were out and available at stores during the time, so I decided I was going to make stuff that I wanted to wear and put it out, too, because maybe there were people out there that felt the same way I did,” he explained.

Finding his inspiration from vintage-style concert, rap and tour t-shirts, Salvatore’s designs are heavily influenced by the styles and culture of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Before this year, Salvatore was “seriously doing designing individually” under his own name, putting out shirts in small quantities before eventually beginning to sell to more influential and popular designers and rappers, who would then post photos on Instagram wearing Salvatore’s products.

The social media recognition that he began to receive placed Salvatore on the radar of a number of others involved in the business who were looking for someone to partner up with. Eventually, a popular designer from California contacted Salvatore about collaborating. “Since then, I became his designer and we became a team, just me, him, and a couple other guys,” he said.

Since the start of their collaboration, Salvatore and his partner have been creating designs for and working with celebrities like Future, Travis Scott, Mike Will Made-It, and a few others. Their products have also reached the likes of pop culture icons such as Chris Brown, ASAP Ferg, Kanye West, and Drake.

After spending the fall semester of his junior year studying abroad in London, England, Salvatore came back to America with fresh ideas and designs in mind. “[London is] ahead of the trends; a lot of stuff I see here coming into style now is what I saw in London almost a year ago,” he explained.

Salvatore also mentioned that there were a number of shops and markets throughout the city that archived vintage clothing, which he was able to check out and use as inspiration.

Mary Kate Feaster, a senior business management student, studied abroad with Salvatore and was able to watch him work on his designs in between classes and weekend trips to other countries. She also noticed how in tune Salvatore already was with the trends that were gaining popularity in the United Kingdom.

“I think London is always ahead of America in terms of fashion and style but when we got there, Jerry was already on the same level as everyone there,” Feaster explained.

Although he is currently majoring in business finance at the University, Salvatore plans to continue designing and selling shirts after he graduates and hopes to one day open up some stores of his own.

He does, however, also have an interest outside of t-shirt design. “I really wanted to get into music and hopefully with the connections I make through designing, I can manage musicians because I’m a big fan of rap and the culture.”

Although the future is uncertain for Salvatore, he is confident in his abilities and looks forward to seeing which direction his designs take him.

“He has so much ambition and love for designing and has been giving it his all for about five years now,” said Kristen Pizzonia, a senior business management student and Salvatore’s girlfriend. “To see how far he has come in just that small amount of time is amazing and I know he’s only going to go farther in the future.”

PHOTO COURTESY of Jerry Salvatore