City College students turn a dream into reality with a start-up clothing line business
For many students, attending a community college isn’t just about completing coursework and earning a degree.
It’s also about exploring one’s passion and establishing business relationships that can last a lifetime.
City College sophomores Daniel Ocampo, sociology major, and Johnny Sam, flight technology major, met in English Writing 100 this semester and have since turned their friendship into a business venture, a clothing line called Stayseen Collective, that they hope will become a local phenomenon.
Ocampo says it took about four years to find someone who was serious about starting a business with him. He explains that the idea for the name came to him shortly after he graduated high school while he was considering the creation of a YouTube channel with some friends. Later, Stayseen Collective became the name of the clothing line.
“I just want to be visual,” said Ocampo.
But Ocampo says the people he originally worked with weren’t willing to commit to the venture as much as he would have liked, and it wasn’t until he met his friend and business partner, Sam, that the idea took off.
“I’ve gone through a lot of business partnerships with people and then I met [Johnny], and he had the same vision and that’s pretty much how it got started,” says Ocampo. “That’s when Stayseen became
much more serious.”
Now, the duo says they hope to turn their business into an outlet for helping local hip-hop artists promote their music. Ocampo and Sam began printing and selling T-shirts and crewnecks, which range in price from $18 to $28, approximately two months ago, and the initial printing of about 24 shirts sold out in approximately 48 hours.
According to Sam, who is in charge of marketing and advertising the brand, the next step for Stayseen is to promote their products at local events.
“We want to be out there, like where you walk through a store like at Arden Mall, you see [our] brand right there; we want to reach that goal,” says Sam. “In the meantime, we want to just be passionate and help other artists, help them come up.”
Ocampo’s vision for the clothing line is a little different.
“I wouldn’t mind walking through any type of mall and seeing our brand out there, but for me it’s more like I want to be able to express the true passion for graphic design,” Ocampo says.
Ocampo explained that some brands’ logos are too complicated or don’t necessarily convey a message, and that his goal is to keep their designs simple while still putting across a positive message.
“We’re big fans of hip-hop,” says Ocampo. “Instead of going out there and dealing drugs [or other illegal things] to make money, we take something that we have passion for and bring in other elements
as well. That’s pretty much how we market it. Right now, we’re just trying to target anybody that has a passion for fashion, anybody in the hip-hop game that’s just looking for a sponsor, that’s the people we try to target.”
Ocampo explains that the logo started out as a basic design using circles, which was inspired by a panda tattoo that Sam has on his right arm. Since Ocampo came up with the name of the clothing line, he wanted to integrate something from Sam into the logo. He says he noticed that Sam is always wearing a type of hat called a snap back, which is a traditional baseball cap that has a snapping mechanism on the back of the hat.
Ocampo took the idea of the snap back and added a line of stars to the logo to symbolize the snaps on the hat.
“I noticed as I was doing that, I started to see the form of an S,” says Ocampo. “And I was like, ‘OK, something else is missing. I’m just going to add a little smile to it,’ and there it is, it’s got the S, the snap back is in there, it’s got the eyes.”
The final logo resembles a smiling face, using the original circles idea, wearing a backward snap back cap, surrounded by the words ‘Stayseen Collective’.
But getting their name out there has been a bit of a struggle thus far because, as Sam explains, it’s tough to get noticed without connections. Both Sam and Ocampo say they have big dreams for their
Still, Sam says even if the business takes off, he still plans to work in his field.
“I would say I’d love to work still,” says Sam. “Flight technology is my thing, and this being my side business; it doesn’t take a lot of work.”
For Ocampo, it remains a sort of a wait-and-see situation.
“We don’t know how far this is going to go,” says Ocampo. “I’m a working student right now, and balancing all this is hard, but if this goes better than I expect it to then this right here could be our professional job.”
Sam says City College reading professor Nancy Olsen is his “favorite professor” and that she is a big proponent of their brand. Olsen has encouraged them to branch out in terms of marketing, he
Sam added that he and Ocampo contacted the Express after a suggestion from Olsen.
“I’m so impressed that [Johnny] and his friend, in the midst of going to college, have already started their business; I think that’s wonderful,” says Olsen. “I told him the [Express] would be fantastic
because it reaches all these students, faculty [and] staff.”
Ocampo says success comes down to being positive, dedicated and passionate, but that getting noticed takes time.
“Be patient,” says Ocampo. “You can’t do something and expect something [to happen] the next week. Just be patient with the things that you do and hopefully things will work out.”