A Common Thread
Childhood friends share vision on business
by Clay Neely - email@example.com
It’s has been said that lasting business is built on friendship.
For longtime friends Blake Adams and Drew Kupfer, this expression represents not only the foundation of their business but also a way of life.
As natives of Sharpsburg, Adams and Kupfer grew up three doors down from one another and shared many interests and pursuits. Their idea behind establishing a clothing company was more than just a typical teenage daydream.
Before the two graduated from East Coweta last year, their families met over Sunday dinner to discuss the young men’s desire to form a clothing company. The more they brainstormed, the closer their dream became a reality.
In May 2013, the Southern Sons label was born.
“We wanted a name that was a representation of our lifestyle and interests,” Kupfer said. “We wanted our company to be representative of the Southern lifestyle.”
After a few attempts at a logo, Adams’ mother, Carol, created the winning design that now represents the new company.
Following graduation, the two young men spent summer vacation observing and researching the business landscape of the clothing industry, planning how to launch their own company successfully.
The young men contacted several screen printing companies. In August, after acquiring a business license, Adams and Kupfer launched their first line of shirts.
Along with the Sassy Squirrel in Turin, one of the first stores to carry the Southern Sons brand was Blue Moon Boutique in downtown Newnan. It was the young men’s sincere approach that won over owner Gay Koran.
“A lot of times when listening to the ideas of young people, one cannot be sure how serious they are,” said Koran. “But [Adam and Kupfer] were taking notes and asking my input. I could tell they were sincere.”
Less than a year after the launch of the company and the addition of the shirts to her boutique, Koran has customers specifically requesting Southern Sons shirts.
“They’re running a strong Southern label with a lot of meaning behind it – not only for them, but for our community as well,” Koran said. “I’m so very proud of them.”
Soon after the first line of shirts, Adams and Kupfer went off to college. While Blake remained relatively close to home in Carrollton, Kupfer currently attends Valdosta State. Both are pursuing degrees in business-related fields.
Despite the geographical distance between the partners, both Kupfer and Adams meet bi-monthly, face to face in order to discuss the more important business matters and ideas for Southern Sons.
Their latest idea came into fruition in March with the launch of their line of custom bow ties.
“The idea behind the bow tie concept is pretty simple,” said Kupfer. “We both wear bow ties and are in fraternities, and whenever I attend any kind of formal, I always like to wear a bow tie, as does Blake. It’s just something we both like, so we researched the best way to go about producing them.”
However, their approach to the bow tie line was unique. Instead of poring over endless amounts of designs and patterns to choose from, Adams and Kupfer found a unique approach to the new product.
All Southern Sons bow ties are handmade from reused materials such as old fabrics from clothing, furniture swatches, and even curtains.
Ultimately, both Adams and Kupfer would like to see the introduction of collared and button up shirts to their line, but remain true to their business model of “slow and steady.”
“We’re always thinking of new products for the company with an eye on the future,” said Adams. “Right now, we’re taking it step by step. Once we have enough revenue, we can introduce a new product. That way, we don’t have to go into debt and start to stress out about things.”
While Adams and Kupfer are both set to graduate from college in 2016, their plans for the future of the company are on a “wait and see” status at the moment.
While Adams plans on pursuing his master’s degree in international business, both have expressed interest in opening their own stores throughout the southeast.
“I know we’re both interested in setting up our own shops along either the Carolina or Gulf coast,” said Adams. “I’d like to open a men’s haberdashery, selling Southern Sons apparel along with some of the other companies that we like.”
Both would like to get their name established and see their products introduced into more stores.
“It’s definitely a big-fish-in-a- small-pond scenario we’re in right now,” Kupfer said. In the meantime, both Adams and Kupfer feel the growth of the company is at a comfortable level and are enjoying their hobby turned business.
“I think the pace we’re going right now is perfect right now,” said Kupfer. “People seem interested in our products and it’s not going too quick. We can really enjoy what we do and hopefully so will others.”
Follow Clay Neely on Twitter - @clayneely