On campus, LSA senior Cyrus Tetteh is known as “the Cool Club guy.”
It all started in 2011 — his freshman year — when he was doing math homework in his West Quad Residence Hall dorm room. He was trying to figure out a way to have an impact in college immediately and wasn’t sure that merely taking classes was enough.
“I wanted to feel like I was progressing, or climbing a ladder in life,” Tetteh said.
The idea and subsequent logo he created that day in West Quad was for a clothing company now known as Cool Club Clothing, LLC. Today, the company designs and sells clothing items sporting the same “Cool Club” logo Tetteh drew on the back of his math homework three years ago.
The company’s goal this year is to put some of Cool Club’s proceeds into a startup fund, which the company would then allocate to people who want to “start up their dreams.”
“Cool Club Clothing is based on the idea that with an open mind you can reach limitless heights,” he said. “I never want anyone to be restricted or feel like they’re restricted in this world, because there’s greatness in everyone and I just want everyone to be able to tap into that.”
Tetteh said he was able to tap into his own ability to start Cool Club Clothing with the help of friends like Business senior David Carlson. The two met during their freshman year as roommates in West Quad.
Carlson helped lift Cool Club Clothing off the ground by converting Tetteh’s hand-drawn logo to a digital form that could be sent to a printer.
“He drew the design, the look, the brand on a napkin actually one time,” Carlson said. “I still have the original file.”
After designing the initial template, Carlson taught Tetteh InDesign, Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator so that they would have the ability to move forward with the company.
Tetteh sends his designs to a variety of printers, including Dynasty Artistic Designs, Underground Printing and Ann Arbor T-shirt Company. He also assembles his own customized clothing using iron-on heat transfers at home.
The company’s most popular items are the “pom beanie” colored winter hats. Other products include sweatshirts, T-shirts and pins. Tetteh said he also meets with customers to make personalized custom designs upon request.
“I hope to be at the point one day where I can just walk down the street and see someone wearing Cool Club that I’d never met before,” Tetteh said.
Tetteh was quick to add, however, that the company’s “personal feel” is important to him. While a lot of his sales occur online, much of his business network comes from in-person connections with friends and friends-of-friends.
“A lot of the people that I sell to, I get to know them and I know who they are,” Tetteh said. “I still love the fact that I know people and that it’s genuine support that they have for me.”
For a semester in 2013, Tetteh networked through an executive board he set up for the enterprise — a strategy he used to get the company up and running.
Though at the time he was unsure if there would be strong interest, 14 people applied and joined the semester-long project.
In addition to running a handful of “pop-up shops” on multiple occasions — the St. Patrick’s Day sale being one of the most notable — the team also held an event with Denard Robinson, former quarterback of the Michigan football team.
Tetteh said he ran into Robinson one day in the Union, and a friend convinced him to go talk to Robinson about Cool Club.
“He was really friendly,” Tetteh said. “He was like, ‘I really like what you’re doing, I really support this, I like people who are doing their thing. If you ever need anything, just let me know.’ “
Robinson gave Tetteh his number and the two later connected to schedule an event he called “The Hangout” in the Michigan Union’s basement.
“It was just a great day; we sold a lot of items,” Tetteh said. “People came from all over. People were lined up at the event to see Denard and they bought clothes like Denard. He really helped me out.”
Though the semester-long executive board project ended two years ago, much of the team still remains very supportive.
LSA senior Paige Blessman served as the vice president of Cool Club Clothing during the project. She said that the Cool Club team still functions as a group of people who support each other in their personal dreams.
“I love Cool Club Clothing,” Blessman said. “We like to support individuality, we know that everyone has their own separate dream — Cyrus started his own company and he likes to support other people’s dreams. One dream that I know I have is I look forward to having my own magazine one day or some of the people want to have their own law firm or their own clothing line and whatnot.”
It’s this mutual support that Cool Club aims to build on as it strives to create the new startup fund that would help fund individuals — particularly students — in their personal endeavors.
Tetteh said he plans to create the startup fund soon, which he hopes will raise the profile of Cool Club Clothing. He plans to leave a representative of the company here at the University when he graduates to promote the company and manage the startup fund.
Carlson forecasted an optimistic future for the company. He referenced both the startup fund, as well as future increased advertising efforts.
“If you don’t know about Cool Club Clothing, you will within the next six months,” he said.