The youth of the twenty-first century have witnessed the dawn of a new technological age. With the ability to discover the world at the touch of a button, one can utilize the vast expanse of the internet to learn and develop new interests that speak to them for future pursuits. Senior Trenton Adair utilizes some of these tools to build on his passion in the fashion industry by personally founding his own custom clothing business and designer lineup.
Adair’s interest in creating his own clothing business started in January of last year when he began designing logos on Adobe Illustrator for a fashion lineup he would soon call the Lonely Hearts Club, which centers around a theme of spreading awareness for the welfare of mental health and wellness. Adair described his reason for developing his lineup around this theme.
“The Lonely Hearts Club itself is . . . a message, not necessarily portraying a club [of] ‘oh yeah I’m lonely’ or whatever, it’s a message of saying [to] overcome the loneliness, overcome depression, overcome anything negative in your life. I put club [in my branding] because I want everyone that buys my product to be interlinked in a community that respects each other, and if you see my logo, it’s being able to identify someone else who has gone through hard times,” Adair said.
Before his debut of the Lonely Hearts Club, Adair attended a graphic design program at the Cleveland Institute of Art this past summer, which spawned his interest in developing his skills in the field and the potential to create a business. During this school year in Mr. Silvestri’s graphic design class, Adair was tasked as part of a contest to design a t-shirt for the Revere innovation team, a group of teachers and staff across the district that meet to research technology for the schools. Adair won with his design and learned how to make the t-shirts for the group by using a heat press and vinyl fabric. Adair detailed the inspiration for completing a similar t-shirt design assignment, which would actually turn out to become his first business sale.
“I was talking to my friend Nick Markovitz, and he wanted a Honda dirt bike design and he [said he] was willing to pay for it. [I] realized I could make money off of making custom clothes for people, [and I] started to let people know through social media. [I] made a platform for it on Instagram so people could get ahold of me better and [for people to] see my works,” Adair said.
With the success of his first sale, Adair composed a business model called Customfits Clothing that would involve him making custom clothes such as shirts, hats, stickers, and hoodies. Anything the customer was interested in purchasing, he was willing to supply the designs and materials to make it happen. Not only did Adair want to make his customer experiences personal, he also wanted to incorporate a business concept where he asked each customer what charitable organization they supported, and he would donate a percentage of the revenue made to that charity. Adair expressed why he wanted to incorporate this aspect into his business dealings, which he had learned from a program he attended in Warrensville Heights throughout the first half of this school year called Savior Arts and Entrepreneurship.
“What I learned a lot from that class is that money is nice, but also money isn’t everything. It puts me at a competitive advantage if I’m going to be giving back to people. If you think about it, everybody wants to help out in a way, and I want to help out too. I don’t want to be selfish and keep everything for myself, especially as young of [an] age I’m at right now. What that program taught me was you’re not the only person that needs help. There’s more people out there that you could be helping with, and you’d still be helping yourself but you could also help others with the stuff that you’ve made,” Adair said.
For one project on behalf of Customfits Clothing, Adair’s friend, senior Macy Thompson, painted a scene from the movie the Shining of Jack Nicholson, which Adair then printed onto a t-shirt. Thompson commented on the nature of Adair’s business model and his flexibility with customers.
“It’s so much more personal than going to a store or doing it online. If you want to get something custom-made online, you have to supply all of the ideas and all of the visions you have. [With Trent,] you give him a few words and he’ll make it your own,” Thompson said.
One of Adair’s customers, senior Becca Jones, was interested in purchasing a bulk order of shirts for the send-off of her brother, senior Ben Jones, who is leaving for boot camp at Paris Island in July to become a Marine in the United States armed forces. Adair was able to design a logo for the shirts and print the Jones’ family name on the back; he additionally donated some of the profits from the order to the Wounded Warriors Project. Jones described her purchase with Adair.
“[The t-shirt order] was originally going to be for our family, and some of his friends heard about it and ended up wanting some, too. We wanted to go to someone from our school, [someone] . . . local that we could support. I also had heard really good things [about Trent’s business], and he got the t- shirts on time and was very professional,” Jones said.
Another customer, senior Lizzy Harwick, purchased a custom Revere spirit wear t-shirt from Adair. Any purchase of these shirts, as Adair described them, will have a percentage donated to the Revere prom fund. Harwick expressed her satisfaction for the purchase.
“[The shirt is] comfortable and it’s exactly what I was looking for. When I saw the [shirt] online, it’s exactly what I imagined it to be [in person],” Harwick said.
The capital Adair accrued from Customfits Clothing has recently allowed him to officially release the first collection of his Lonely Hearts Club lineup, which includes four shirts, two hats, a crewneck sweatshirt, a bandana, and a windbreaker. Adair detailed his upcoming plans for the lineup.
“My goal is to release a collection every month on the website. There’s pretty much all graphics on [each of the products] with my logo. Also I use my photography on some of the shirts. All of the artwork I made all myself. I also made all of the website myself. . . . I’m excited about releasing this to everyone so they can see what I’ve been working on for a really long time,” Adair said.
As a part of his businesses, Adair creates his shirts using a variety of techniques such as using heat transfer paper and iron, a sublimation machine that dyes the shirts directly with the designs, and a heat press with vinyl fabric. Adair described the process of working with customers from designing the clothing to its final creation.
“[If] someone wants a shirt, I’ll give myself a deadline of a couple of weeks, like if someone contacts me for a shirt, I’ll start designing right away and [send] them pictures of the design [to show them] how it’s coming along, if they want any different improvements. I work with the customer instead of just allowing it all to be up to me, because I want my customer to be in charge of everything. . . . [For] making it, it’s gotten faster now that I have the heat press, but it still takes a little time cutting out the design, making sure the printer is running right, the colors are matched up, but the actual heating time of transferring . . . is less than a minute,” Adair said.
As a part of Lonely Hearts Club, Adair intends to continue promoting the lineup through word-of-mouth throughout the local community, as well as filming commercials for his Instagram and other social media platforms. Adair described the process for how he and his friends came up with their first commercial for the clothing collection.
“It was a late night idea with my friends Samson [Albert] and Lucas [Cuca]. We were bored, . . . trying to figure out something to do. Samson’s into making videos [and] directing them, and Lucas is into acting a little bit. We were talking about it and I [said] ‘hey, I’m starting up this clothing line. I have a bunch of shirts that I’ve made, if you guys wanted to do something, we could shoot a commercial’ and they got really happy about it. We went over to my house, brought over some clothes, and we all added into it. We storyboarded it out and finalized an idea of having someone going through their daily routine, but instead of picking out other peoples’ clothes, they’re picking out Lonely Hearts Club [clothes], showing they would prefer mine over others,” Adair said.
Adair dedicates a large portion of his day into his two businesses. Adair described his daily routine.
“I’m not [going to] say I have the best sleep schedule in the world, just because of all of the stuff that I’m doing, but it’s manageable. As far as I do it, I’m a senior in high school, I’m trying really hard in my business, but also I want to enjoy my senior year, so there’s a couple of things that go on in my life. When I get home, . . . if I have some shirts to make, [or if there are] some orders to send out, I work on that. . . . I’m always in the mindset of thinking about my business. I have to go to school, I have to make sure my grades are consistent, but I also have to keep my life relationships with my family and friends consistent too,” Adair said.
Adair explained why he enjoys working to progress his business prospects and working for himself.
“I would much rather in life work for myself trying to do something that I love doing and fail at it rather than being a successful employee working for someone else’s dream. With myself, I’d be perfectly fine with failing a hundred times to succeed once because sometimes that’s what it takes. Not that I hate the idea of people telling me what to do, not in an egotistical sense, but I’d prefer my point of view over some other people’s, and as far as what I’m getting into, I feel like that’s easier for me to express individualism through artwork and also clothes,” Adair said.
For a senior on the cusp of graduation, Adair continues to work on his clothing businesses and grow by using new skills in college to replicate his high school experiences in the fashion industry.
Visit Trent’s Lonely Hearts Club website at lonelyheartsclub-lhc.com