By Lauren Legette
Meet YPer Julian Gunder, a 2008 graduate of Howard University and Founder of ILoveCollege Clothing, a brand geared toward making school “cool”. ILoveCollege just launched their Spring/Summer line and they are quickly gaining momentum in the New York area. I sat down with Julian to discuss ILoveCollege and here’s what he had to say…
Lauren: Julian, thank you for sitting down with me to talk about ILoveCollege Clothing!
Julian: No, thank you! I have a lot of respect for YP and the awesome work they do in the community. I’m honored to share something I’m so passionate about with my fellow YPers.
LL: So tell me, what exactly is ILoveCollege?
JG: You know, we’re a clothing line on a mission. The goal is to start a movement among inner city youth, a movement that embraces school and highlights the benefits of a college education. It’s called “The Get Smarter Movement” and several of the pieces from our new collection carry the slogan. We sell clothing and backpacks but we also host live events, concerts and more.
LL: Why did you start ILoveCollege?
JG: I’m passionate about seeing students from low-income communities reach their full potential. Growing up in Southern California, I knew kids who were incredibly smart but wasted their intelligence on gang violence. There are way too many kids out there who have the potential to become astronauts, software developers, marketing executives and such, but succumb to the negativity of street life. As a result, I feel that it’s my duty to be a mentor and a tutor to these students. Through my experiences working with kids, I noticed that they gravitate towards what’s “cool” – clothing and music. I realized that in order to make school cool, I needed to inspire and encourage them through a vehicle they love and understand. So I chose clothing.
LL: From what I’ve heard, you’re going full-time with this. What was the motivation behind quitting Corporate America to pursue this full-time?
JG: ILoveCollege was launched in 2011 as a side business that I only worked on occasionally because at the time, I simply intended for it to be a t-shirt company. By 2013, my desire to make it grow into something impactful had become overwhelming and ideas about making it really happen took over my life. I developed a sense of urgency for the business and knew that it would only blossom if I devoted 100% of my time to it as I had previously been working for a well-known media company that required long hours and travel. In September 2013, I had a launch party at Arlene’s Grocery on the LES. The launch featured up-and-coming R&B and rock artists like Larcy, Mercury Landing, Tamara Bubble, The Neon Eyes and dance group known as The Original Harlem Shakers. At that event, I just knew “NOW IS THE TIME”. I actually really liked my corporate gig, but the outpouring love in the room was what sealed the deal.
LL: When you were a student at Howard University, did you see yourself going this route?
JG: In college, I knew that I would become a business owner someday. The idea for this business came to me a few years after I graduated.
LL: I saw on your site that you have partnered with your local Boys and Girls Club. What was the motivation behind that?
JG: When I was a kid, I went to the Boys and Girls Club every summer and loved it. The BG Club is a fun, safe place for kids to grow and they have many of the same ideals as ILoveCollege. The partnership revolves around taking high school and middle school students on tours of college campuses.
LL: What are your future plans for ILoveCollege?
JG: By the end of 2015, I would like to be able to give a backpack to a kid in need per backpack sold. I’m also working on an educational-related mobile app to help students navigate through the college admissions process. Lastly, I would like to work with artists who have demonstrated a real interest in youth education such as Will.i.am , Pitbull and Jay-Z.
To learn more about ILoveCollege, visit http://www.ilovecollege.org
About the Author, Lauren Legette
Calling All Entrepreneurs for the NYULYP Annual Entrepreneur Marketplace
During our March General Body Meeting, we will host our annual Young Professional Entrepreneur Marketplace onTuesday, March 18th from 6:30pm to 8:30pm at JP Morgan. This will be an opportunity to showcase your business to a diverse network of young professionals, learn tips on how to grow your business, meet potential clients, and network with other business owners. If you are an entrepreneur and meet the criteria below, please email Membership Chair, Erika Beckles, at YPMembership@nyul.org. The deadline to respond is Friday, March 7th.
1. Business must be in operation for a minimum of one year prior to the event
2. Must have a functioning website at the time of expressed interest
3. Must have official documentation showing business license, incorporation, etc.
Note: Current YP members may participate for free. The Non-Member fee to participate is $50