While most college students expect their dreams and ambitions to only be realized after they’ve graduated, others break this mold completely, finding success at the most unlikely times.
Zack Silver, a former Central Michigan University student and owner and founder of the Stand Out Live Original (SOLO) Detroit clothing company, is living proof of that.
In March 2012, Silver, who was a junior at the time, left CMU and his marketing aspirations behind and focused on his true passion, design, which would eventually lead to his success in the clothing design industry.
“During my last year of college I went through a bit of legal trouble and at the time, I lost interest in school and wasn’t able to focus on keeping up with my grades,” Silver said. “Instead, all I wanted to do was design and teach myself new things on Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.”
Silver decided the path he was on was not going to lead him to the place he most wanted to be.
“Ultimately, I decided to leave Central because I was putting myself in a ton of debt when I wasn’t happy being in school,” he said. “It became very obvious to me that I wasn’t following my dreams and needed to change my route in life.”
That route took a sudden curve when Silver brought his good friend, Michigan State University senior Jake Leider, in on an idea that would change both of their futures. That idea would soon become a full-fledged company by the name of SOLO Detroit.
Since then, the duo has built a team of workers who share responsibilities within the company.
One of those team members is West Bloomfield senior Benjamin Workman, who serves as the director of marketing. According to Workman, SOLO Detroit prides itself on being a fashionable clothing line that offers affordable prices, but the true value of the company lies in its origin.
“Stand Out Live Original Detroit was created from the belief that one should never settle with anything in their lives (and) to inspire people to chase their true dreams and to do the things that make them happiest in life,” Workman said.
Silver said everyone stands out in an original way. What makes him stand out is his vision for the future.
“For me, (standing out) was about creating a clothing company with a vision of one day becoming a successful entrepreneur and owning my own line of clothing stores,” Silver said.
Workman praises the hard work of Silver in creating the company, which, like most small businesses, was incredibly difficult to start.
“A lot of meticulous planning and designing went into opening this business,” Workman said. “(Silver) spent almost an entire year simply designing and promoting the brand before any type of product was released to the general public.”
While the business doesn’t have a physical location, the heart of the company and the culture of their product stems from inspirations from the city of Detroit.
“Detroit, in its present state, is an entity that is starting from the ground up and must do everything within its power to differentiate itself from both other locations and its prior self,” Workman said. “SOLO Detroit is also starting from the ground up, and we wish to combine our vision with the positive energy that is going toward revitalizing that city.”
The company sells numerous clothing types.
“Currently, we sell T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies, crew necks, hats and beanies, (but) we are definitely looking to expand our product lineup as our business continues to grow,” Workman said.
The business obtained its LLC in August 2012 and started selling its products in October of that year. Retail locations such as SHE, Funky 7 and Double Up house the SOLO Detroit products at their various locations.
“Double Up was the first store we got into and we tested the product with hats, which they agreed to put on commission there,” Silver said. “They did really well, and the 12 hats we had there sold out in a week.”
The company has a few projects in the works, including a partnership with electronic artist Griz in which they will provide hats for his Mad Liberation tour.
“Grant (Griz) and I went to high school together, and when we released our first line of hats, he contacted me about wanting one,” Silver said. “Once we gave him that, we built a relationship with him and he approached us about doing a hat for his album.”
The design for the hats took a few weeks to create, but the work paid off after they sold out after just seven hours on sale.
Silver encourages CMU students to take pride in what they love.
“I really want students to know SOLO Detroit and that (the idea) started at their school,” Silver said. “They should wear the brand and do what makes them happy because that’s what SOLO stands for – doing what you love.”