Ideas come to us at different times and different places – you constantly hear about the ‘dorm room entrepreneur’ these days as inspiration may even strike us in our pajamas sitting in Donlon Hall. This scenario happened to one Cornell entrepreneur only he was sporting a button-up shirt.
In his sophomore year, Mac Bishop ’11 started his first company, eCommerce art/fashion site Native(X). Hailing from the Pacific Northwest and always interested in styles – Mac tailored this site to act as an online gallery of art and fashion specifically focused on Native American artists to help them market and sell their work to a larger audience. Originally Bishop was focused on just apparel but has grown the site to capture all Northwest Coast artists specializing in totem style prints, which as any fashionista knows is very in this season… Now Bishop scours the web for up-and-coming Native artists from around the country.
Today at 24, Bishop was thirsting for a new venture. After a stint with Unilever in the shopper marketing division Bishop decided to take what he learned into his own hands and launch a new innovative apparel company Wool&Prince. His inspiration came from looking at his family’s business, touching the apparel market for over 100 years with Pendleton Woolen Mills. Bishop’s company, however, challenges the norms of the fashion industry. Personally, as a male shopper I am constantly wearing and ultimately washing my couple pairs of jeans and hate the hassle of constant laundering and dry cleaning my button up shirts. Wool&Prince challenges that rule and focuses on making better, longer-lasting apparel for men. Shirts that require cleaning after 1-2 wears gets time consuming, monotonous, and can be destructive to the fibers of the clothes – Bishop has promoted a new use of wool, as a long lasting odor fighting wrinkle free material that keeps a shirt fresh for 100 days.
100 days? Yup. To prove it, Bishop went to the streets and asked passerbys to ‘smell my shirt’ to then declare that he’s gotten over 150 wears out of it before washing. Observers thought the garb had even been dry-cleaned – a testament to the look and last of Mac’s top. After a marketing video and Kickstarter campaign, Bishop was able to raise more than $300,000 to fund the operation. Now major national manufacturers are looking at Bishop and his revolutionizing button-down as a new frontier in the male shirt category.
When asked what advice he could lend to student entrepreneurs Mac remarked “Just start doing! You will learn so much from your failures. Don’t be afraid of failures. That’s part of the process. Start young when the risk is low.”
So who knows maybe that inspiration will strike you during one of those all nighters on North Campus. But maybe try a button down instead of those pajamas…
Mac Bishop ’11 will be visiting his alma mater Cornell University 2/19 – 2/20 telling his story to entrepreneurship classes and having lunch with students.