Student-created Shadow Co. has a bright future
BGSU business students start apparel business from dorms
By Kandace York
When Joe Lisa and Daniel Kramer came to Bowling Green State University, they expected to graduate with a world-class education. What the sophomore and freshman didn’t expect was the opportunity to start their own business.
Lisa was a resident advisor (RA) in Kramer’s dorm, and the two got to know each other as fellow business majors in the College of Business Administration.
“We realized that our thoughts on business strategies and business ideas were very similar,” Kramer said.
He and Lisa realized that one of the other things they had in common was the frustration of finding sunglasses, watches and other fashion accessories they liked. Nothing seemed to be affordable, stylish and targeted for college students who are also young professionals.
Just like that, Shadow Co. was born.
“We wanted something that we could get to market quickly, something that we could make a profit on, but also something that was affordable,” Kramer said. “We talked about different ideas, like T-shirts, but everyone makes those. We wanted something unique.”
The company’s current product line features woodgrain and leather watches, along with bamboo sunglasses. The sunglasses range from $10 to $30; watches sell for $20.
“I like our sunglasses better than anything I’ve seen in stores,” Kramer said. “The bamboo gives them a natural look that college students tell us they love.”
Kramer and Lisa run the business from their dorms, in addition to their regular studies on campus.
Joe Lisa says his coursework as a marketing major has been useful in establishing Shadow Co.
“We’ve relied on social media to promote our products; that’s where we’ve seen the biggest payback,” he said. “On Instagram, for example, images of our products and of people wearing them brings a lot of confidence to buyers.”
Developing Shadow Co. has involved other real-world lessons for both students.
“Last fall, we tried a Kickstarter campaign to generate a funding base,” Lisa said. “We had good results, but we learned that it’s not the best fit for our product, so we’ve decided just to focus on sales.”
Balancing their business needs with their own academic demands has been another learning experience. Right now, Shadow Co. is one of a couple projects that Lisa and Kramer have partnered on; they are starting an internship that combines marketing, product estimating and staff management for painting projects.
Lisa, who said he wants to be a lifelong entrepreneur, has a third business project in the works as well. He is a 2017 Hatchling, competing for financing and approval of a wearable charging device through BGSU’s Hatch, a “Shark Tank” style program that wraps up April 6.