The Birth of Yaz Apparel
Josh Yazdian, a student at Indiana University and founder of Yaz Apparel, knew his clothing could be a hit when he discovered that people were stealing it.
By Nicole Travers, Indiana University at Bloomington
Josh Yazdian, an Indiana University sophomore, would’ve never imagined that a pillowcase laying on his bed in Mcnutt dorms would spark his revolutionary clothing line, Yaz Apparel—a company that consists of hundreds of products ranging from hoodies to women’s jogger pants.
Neither would he have thought that the sale, or loss of sale, of his first stolen product would result in thousands of sales later down the road.
In early 2014, Yazdian was in Mcnutt Residence Hall where he spent most of his nights relaxing or completing assignments for his fashion merchandising classes. It was just an ordinary night at around 11 p.m. when the idea hit him; he grabbed his printed pillowcase and a plain t-shirt and let the needle and thread do the rest.
After creating his first product, Yazdian created several more t-shirts consisting of similar patterns and designs. He began to tell his friends in his fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, as well as students in his residence hall and classes about his clothing.
A fraternity brother told Yazdian that he was interested in buying one of his T-shirts. Yazdian was excited that somebody had appreciated his designs and would allow him to have his very first sale. After he sold the product, it vanished out of their closet—and that’s when he knew.
“The reason I started this company was because if someone stole it from them, than it must be a good product—and that week, I ordered 50 new sweatshirts,” Yazdian said.
Sitting in his dorm room, Yazdian grabbed a red sweatshirt, an Aztec printed fabric, a needle and thread and some adhesive to create his first hoodie. The next day when he wore it to class, students were coming up to him wanting to buy it right off his back. From that moment on, the name Yaz Apparel quickly progressed.
Months later, Yaz Apparel was becoming more popular and things were beginning to get hectic. That’s when Yazdian decided he wanted a business partner and invited over a classmate from Spanish class, Dong Kim, to discuss his plans.
“Josh came to me on a Sunday night after Spanish class after he told me about partnering up—I saw the products and started jotting down ideas of making new products and how to make Yaz Apparel the next Nike or Polo,” Kim said. “Josh came over the next day and was blown away by my ideas and then asked me to be his business partner; I was ecstatic but I knew that it was time to start working.”
During the process of creating 50 hoodies, Yazdian turned his desk into a workshop station and stuck the products underneath his bed. After creating each product, he needed to get the word out somehow. By designating multiple social media accounts to Yaz Apparel, he believed that he could most effectively develop a following. A month later, he was ecstatic to find that all of his products had been sold.
Social Media Is Crucial
Instagram: After creating a new hoodie, Yazdian posts a picture of it on Instagram and within 1-2 days the product would be sold. He finds that using popular hashtags and following a relevant target audience attracts new buyers.
Snapchat: After creating multiple products, Yazdian would demonstrate what appeared to look like a garage sale on his Snapchat account. Viewers are able to virtually see all of the products in his dorm room and message him about product inquiries.
Facebook: Whether it be a status, pictures, or information about products—all of these features allow greater awareness and potential for sales. Yazdian makes sure to take advantage of Facebook as much as possible.
Yazdian has found that these strategies have allowed him to make all his money back plus more. While each hoodie’s cost ranges from $35 to $45, he has been able to use his profit money towards numerous business expenses including new materials and his website, Yazapparel.com, formed in February 2015.
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Yazdian experienced a decline in sales over winter break of 2015 when he thought to add some new products to his line aside from hoodies.
“At first, I really wanted to just make hoodies but over winter break I started making t-shirts and designed 10 different ones and posted them on my website. People weren’t buying them because the weather was too cold,” Yazdian said.
Despite this obstacle, he continued to produce hoodies for the winter season. He and Kim worked together to establish the company and make sure things were running smoothly. During this time, they contacted several manufacturers across the country who would be willing to mass produce these products and help design new ones.
Months later, a manufacturer in California struck Yazdian by surprise with a telephone call. That following summer, Yazdian and Kim were thrilled to travel to Los Angeles. Yazdian had always had faith in his company, but watching these accomplishments unfold was an experience unlike any other.
“When I went to California to the manufacturer, we came up with over 100 designs. Only two other people in the world would probably have the same design as you,” Yazdian said. “The company strives for uniqueness.”
Within just eight months, Yazdian and Kim experienced skyrocketing sales of nearly 2,000 items. This marked a huge turning point for Yaz Apparel, and things have only continued to progress
As a clothing line creator and designer over the last two years, Yazdian believes that the worst thing you can do is give up after experiencing a mistake. He has learned from these mistakes, which has led to his increasing success.
“Right now I’m on a steady incline and it’s a very competitive business but by being a little different that has helped,” Yazdian said.