Company: Hedrick Holdings
What they do: Consulting firm and owner of Bengals and Bandits, an LSU apparel retail store
Revenue: Over $150,000 so far in 2012
Next Goal: Continued success
The "aha" moment
Eric Hedrick attended Loyola University for a degree in broadcast journalism. But out of college in 2000, he found himself working in the apparel business. “I was filling a need,” Hedrick says. “There was no one making high-end college apparel, especially men's apparel.” He initially created licensed products for LSU, but soon found himself doing the same for more than 50 colleges. He sold his apparel business in 2009 and opened Bengals and Bandits in May 2010. Soon after, athletes and organizations began approaching him, looking for marketing and branding consultation. “Working with apparel and all that, I started meeting athletes. And they want to start their own apparel lines, they want to start their own businesses, their own foundations,” Hedrick says. “It kind of started organically.”
Hedrick had to maximize his resources in the competitive licensed apparel business, and the connections he made then are still serving him today. He quickly realized he would need a Chinese manufacturer for his goods to stay competitive. He started making orders online, and annual trips to China to source fabrics soon followed. Bengals and Bandits not only turns a profit, but it connects him to possible clients. “Having the store gets you a lot of referrals. You know, there aren't a lot of people in Baton Rouge who can source something in China,” he says. “My clients are all referral-based.” That is how he connected with Glen “Big Baby” Davis, the former LSU and current Orlando Magic star forward, who brought Hedrick in to help him run his Glen Big Baby Davis Foundation.
Hitting the Market
When Bengals and Bandits opened, the concept was to be more than just another LSU apparel outlet. “Bengals and Bandits is a brand,” Hedrick says. “Our awning and our store, they're not purple and gold for a reason.” He says the store has sold over 1,500 T-shirts with the Bengals and Bandits logo on them to date. Hedrick is also in discussions with athletes about more business ventures, including clothing lines.
“I just follow the opportunities available to me. Marketing and branding—it doesn't matter if it's a product or a service, what it is. You can either do it or you can't.”
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