|22 Jul 2022|
It all started in art class on the top floor of the Schloss Haimhausen. Fabian Pletzer and James Copping, both 15 years old at the time, formed a team on an art project. The collaboration quickly developed into a deep friendship. A year later, the Austrian and Englishman are business partners and founders of their own start-up: the streetwear brand 8thUniverse.
The new brand includes unisex streetwear clothing in the form of custom fitted designs on garment types such as t-shirts, hoodies, and pants - all sustainably produced with organic materials. The name 8thUniverse derives from two sources of ideology, the name universe from a Drake song, and 8 because when you rotate it by 90 degrees you end up with infinity. The two meanings link together to reflect the goal of the brand which is longevity and creativity. The first collection from 8thUniverse was called Trauma and deliberately thematized sorrows and fears from the coronavirus pandemic. The second series of summer T-shirts will be launched in July - the design incorporates rap lyrics, impressions from travels, and a splattered motif is intended to draw attention to the war against Ukraine and promote peace.
Fabian and James work together as equal partners and complement each other perfectly with their respective specialties. Fabian concentrates more on design, fashion and marketing, while James brings his strengths in technology and finance. "The project has allowed us to learn an extensive amount of knowledge about business, specifically things that you can not learn from a textbook. All of the mistakes we have made have allowed us to grow and be able to apply them to our future use cases in the real world," say the 16-year-old entrepreneurs.
They have experienced the rocky road of founders, had to cope with setbacks, faced problems with production and found raising the start-up capital was also challenging. Their persistence paid off, and 8thUniverse was launched in October 2021, with a boom. An event at an exclusive streetwear store in Munich, with gastronomy, family, friends, and many others celebrated the launch of the brand. The ecstatic atmosphere created a tightly knit community, and celebrated what the streetwear community is about - fun and creativity.
Now Fabian and James are focusing on the new collection, building their community, raising awareness and opening new distribution channels.
Their school, the Bavarian International School (approx. 1,150 students from 60 nations at the two campuses in Haimhausen and Munich-Schwabing), has played no small part in the success of the young global citizens. Fabian’s English skills were quite good prior to his entry into 9th grade, however the immersive atmosphere at BIS turned him into a fluent speaker. Both emphasize how they have developed their research skills in particular and can combine knowledge from different disciplines. The two young gentlemen also noted, "When you're founding a startup, you do get confused. If you can't make basic connections between different disciplines, you can get lost along the way."
"BIS is not only a place where we learn knowledge, but it also allows us to meet innovative and creative people to broaden our network at a young age, unlike other schools, which expect you to 'swallow a textbook' and only memorize facts and dates. BIS teaches us to think and think for ourselves, gaining knowledge independently in topics we love. Critically evaluating statements and points of view to come to a balanced conclusion, a skill that is becoming even more important as our world media, and opinions become increasingly polarized," explained Fabian and James.
In the next school year 2022-23, the two friends will start the final chapter of their school career at an IB World School. In grades 11 and 12, the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB DP) is on the agenda - a kind of "international Abitur", which is highly renowned and opens the way to a plethora of pathways all over the world thanks to the skillset the IB programme provides.
No matter what direction Fabian and James take later, they will stick with 8thUniverse and keep going. "It's our first business, so it will always have a special place in our hearts." It definitely doesn't sound like it will be the Austrian-English duo's last entrepreneurship....
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