When Josh Carn-Saferstein and Noah Hirschl, both Ann Arbor high school seniors, decided to design and sell Michigan-themed sunglasses before University football games last fall, they didn’t expect much.
But after selling out of 500 pairs within three games, they saw potential for their business, Spirit Specs, to grow.
“We’ve lived in Ann Arbor our whole lives, and we’re both devoted Michigan fans,” Hirschl said. “Having 110,000 people in one place where you can just hold up a product and have tens of thousands of people walk by (is) the easiest form of marketing.”
Hirschl and Carn-Saferstein said they have always been entrepreneurial. In middle school, Carn-Saferstein sold water and Gatorade on the sidewalk before University football games, and during his sophomore year, Hirschl began his own company, Sloshmonster Apps.
“We’re both into making money in unique ways,” Carn-Saferstein said.
After their initial success, Carn-Saferstein and Hirschl expanded their sunglasses inspired by Michigan State University, the Detroit Tigers and local high schools.
They sold out their first shipment of 250 pairs outside of Comerica Park before a summer game and put in another order. While the two haven’t been to East Lansing yet to sell their MSU-themed products, they stock them in their online store and plan to sell them at a game in the near future. They are also hoping to expand to winter items like hats and gloves.
“It’s somewhat of a seasonal business, and we were looking for a way to generate income during the off-season,” Hirschl said.
The duo decided to donate 10 percent of their earnings to the Jalen Rose Charitable Fund, founded by former Michigan basketball forward Jalen Rose. The foundation provides scholarships and programs for underserved students in the Detroit area.
“We thought we should help the community that’s (part of) our market,” Hirschl said. “As high-school students and soon-to-be college students, we thought it would be a good idea to help people our age who are less privileged.”
While Carn-Saferstein and Hirschl are applying to colleges and plan to pursue business degrees, they are unsure if they will continue Spirit Specs after high school.
“If we go to the same school we plan to,” Carn-Saferstein said. “For now, our main focus is catchy, unique stuff.”