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Kent State Student Starts Clothing Company for BodybuildersPosted Oct. 17, 2011 | Kasey Fahey
Kent State University senior Matt Kolic launched Steel Clothing, a fitness and bodybuilding apparel company, in April 2011 and has already seen success. Kolic, 23, is an entrepreneurship major from Canton, Ohio, and expects to graduate from the university in May 2012. The mission of the company is to bring updated fashion to the industry.
Kolic is the CEO of Steel Clothing. He partnered with 2010 Kent State graduate Aaron Rowley when he started the business. Rowley was a criminal justice major who liked the idea, so he invested in the company.
“The thing that separates us from other companies is high-end graphic designs on our clothes,” Kolic says. He contacted designers who were willing to work with a startup company and have worked with other companies like Nike and Hurley.
Kolic says he got into the industry by working out at the end of high school and developing a love for lifting. Originally an exercise science major, he worked with the strength coaches at Kent State and The Ohio State University. After he took an introduction to entrepreneurship class, he changed his major and combined his passion for lifting and fitness with business. While brainstorming names, Steel Clothing just stuck; it was simple and easy.
Kent State Entrepreneur-in-Residence Craig Zamary helps guide and work with students to launch their businesses. His help is not limited to entrepreneurship majors. He helps all Kent State students. Zamary has been working with Kolic for two years.
“I have been working with Matt on strategy, networking and developing his business from the ground up,” Zamary says. “He does all the work, and I help guide him along and act as support.
“I really respect Matt and I am extremely proud of what he has accomplished in such a short period of time,” he continues. “His business is growing rapidly, and he already has some of the top bodybuilders in the world wearing his clothing.”
“You make a lot of good contacts in the industry, and it shows that you can run a business and still be in college,” Kolic says. “Craig Zamary and the whole entrepreneurship program have been very helpful in the journey of launching and running my business.”
Steel Clothing is now working with one of the biggest body builders in the industry, Phil “The Gift” Heath. Kolic contacted him via Twitter and sent him free clothing. Heath liked it and talked to Kolic about starting a line together. Steel Clothing now has a signature “Gifted Athletics” line that works with Heath.
Steel Clothing also sponsors local bodybuilders and other professionals in the industry. The price range of clothing is $22 to $30. The company will be expanding with winter clothes as the seasons change. There are a few women’s items, and there will be more coming out soon.
Kolic says his goal for the company is to grow it as big as he can make it, while keeping the simple mission.
“I want to have it be well-known and be the largest clothing line for fitness and body building in that niche market,” Kolic says.
All clothing is made in the United States and printed in Cleveland. The company ships internationally to more than eight countries.
“It’s nice to keep it as local as possible,” Kolic says.
Purchases can be made online at the company’s website www.steelclothing.com.