Sven McCaskill is a sophomore at Richmond Hill High School who thinks of his own clothing style as preppy. But he was tired of paying so much for just one shirt at his favorite stores.
“These big companies upcharge just for the brand name,” McCaskill said. “My mom could only buy me one new shirt, not because we don’t have the money but because they are so expensive.”
McCaskill took the problem into his own hands and created a solution. With the help of his parents, his sister, friends and his business-class teacher, McCaskill started his own clothing company called Proper Peach.
“What threw me into coming up with this company was moving to Richmond Hill,” said McCaskill, who moved here over the summer. “I know that kids want to buy shirts that they think are preppy and look nice, but there’s nowhere to really buy them from. So I thought why not come up with a shirt company that’s just as nice as the other ones but sell them for cheaper, and market them as a Georgia paraphernalia.”
A family friend who owns a small T-shirt company and McCaskill’s high school business-class teacher, coach Stacy Bennett, have been the young garment entrepreneur’s mentors. Through his business class, McCaskill has had the opportunity to create fliers, newsletters and a website for his business, as well as learn the basics of starting a company.
“I love his ideas,” RHHS Principal Debi McNeal said. “It is exciting to me that a student would have time to invest in something like this and even more impressive to make it happen. He has it so together and is so forward-thinking. I was just in awe listening to him tell me about his T-shirts. I think they are going to be a huge success.”
McCaskill researched how to make his idea a reality by looking into the pros, cons and costs of paying someone to make his T-shirts, making them himself, stenciling them, using a heat press and other options.
He decided to purchase pre-made T-shirts in bulk from another company and have a designer create his artwork. McCaskill’s goal is to buy a screen-printing machine so he can print his own shirts someday.
McCaskill has been running his company for four weeks and said he has sold quite a few already. He has been advertising on social media, but hopes to use other forms of marketing in the future.
“My Instagram account is growing,” McCaskill said. “I gained 200 followers in one day just from posting pictures on Instagram. Last night, I opened my account, and I gained 20 followers in just one hour. So, it’s doing pretty good on social media so far.”
In his business class, McCaskill made a commercial for his business. He hopes to get the 30-second spot online or on TV at some point. He’s also been talking to different stores to try and sell his shirts. For now, Proper Peach is only T-shirts, but McCaskill plans to expand to long-sleeve shirts, koozies, hats, visors, stickers and, eventually, sweaters and jackets.
“Our students are contributing members of our community,” McNeal said. “As such, students learning how to take their ideas and build a marketable product gives them a leg up in the business world at a very young age. Sometimes the difference-maker for success is experience, so if students can get experience in the business world while they are in school, they have a real opportunity to learn valuable skills.”
Proper Peach T-shirts are light-blue, 100 percent pre-shrunk cotton with a front pocket. The design on the pocket is a peach with a bow tie and the words “Proper Peach.” On the back, the shirts have a large peach with the Georgia state flag inside. Underneath is the company’s tagline, “Life shouldn’t always be the pits.”
One of the biggest struggles McCaskill has had in starting this business has been time management. He has been trying to balance his business, school, homework, his soccer practices and games, and time with friends.
“It’s a hard balance, but I’m getting used to it,” McCaskill said. “It’s rolling pretty well right now and I’m hoping it starts taking off on the business end. Soccer is staying strong. Other than that, the biggest problem I have is having funding. What I’ve put into this company is all the money I’ve earned from refereeing soccer games to doing yard work. People ask why I wouldn’t just use that money to buy something, but I see a better future investing and doing something myself. I want to stray from the original path that most people follow.”
McCaskill was inspired to go after his dream by his grandparents, who went after their dream by starting their own pool business.
“They created and made a multimillion dollar company from scratch,” McCaskill said of his grandparents. “I feel like I’m following in their footsteps.”
He said his biggest support has been his family. His sister helped him come up with the name for the company, and his parents have helped with ideas and his website. Other than his family, McCaskill has had support from Bennett, who has helped him when it comes to talking through decisions.
McCaskill’s principal, McNeal, believes the community has influenced the sophomore as well.
“Richmond Hill influences students immensely — whether through recreational sports and the South Bryan County Recreation Center, partnering with our work-based learning program to employ students as a part of their learning experience or recognizing student success like the Rotary and Exchange clubs,” McNeal said. “Richmond Hill is a strong, positive influence in many, many ways.”
Short sleeve T-shirts can be purchased for $25 online or in person through McCaskill. Proper Peach accepts credit cards and Paypal accounts. Customers can be featured on the Proper Peach website for posting a photo with the hashtag #lsabtp on social media. McCaskill also is working on a special Christmas design for long-sleeve shirts to come out soon.
For more information or to buy a shirt, go to www.properpeachclothing.com. To keep up with the company on social media, follow @ProperPeach_co on Instagram and Twitter.