J-D's Entrepreneurs Shine Through Their Clothing Lines

By Meghan Byrnes and Morgan Brang

Entertainment and Features Editors


AliJaqs, Prime Roots Apparel and Rarity. Do these names mean anything to you? These are the names of three companies run by students here at Jamesville-Dewitt High School. All three companies produce unique clothing and reflect the entrepreneurship and creativity of the students that run them.

The first of these companies was co-created and is now co-owned by seniors Jackie Halpin and Ali Emmel, hence the name AliJaqs. According to Halpin, they started the company by making the clothing for themselves when they were bored and it has turned into more than they had hoped. “We started making them for ourselves and other people wanted them,” explained Halpin.

The clothing they make has handmade galaxy prints on them. “Our company is unique because every product is different since we paint each item depending on what is ordered,” said Emmel. Halpin and Emmel can create a shirt from virtually any design brought to them. A person describes his or her idea and Halpin and Emmel then take the design and paint the galaxy pattern by hand. People have brought everything from the form of a rubber ducky to the Batman logo for Emmel and Halpin to paint their trademark galaxy print within. Another aspect of the company being custom is that they don’t have big releases of a certain product. Instead, they make the items as the specific order comes in. Right now, one of the most popular designs is “The Rachel" which can be seen above.

“The galaxy print is very different but cool,” said sophomore Carly Stone. “I like the fact that I can pick my own design,” continued Stone. Sophomore Julia Slisz agrees saying the galaxy print is very in style and that the whole idea of the company is really cool.

Although this is a business for them, the main goal of the company is to have something fun to do. AliJaqs is expanding their company and just made a Facebook page called AliJaqs. They have also recently created an Etsy account. “We just came out with a logo and are starting to put them on the sweatshirt,” said Halpin about their evolution. “We even did a collaboration with Prime Roots,” added Halpin. For the future, they don’t want to give up the company but according to Emmel, they will most likely stop working on AliJaqs once they go to college.

Seen anyone repping PRA around the halls? That’s the work of Prime Roots Apparel which was started by junior Ben Katsarsky. He was inspired over the summer while working for Syracuse Screen Printing. “I saw how easily it(making shirts) was done and I had already been printing some stuff,” said Katsarsky. Unlike AliJaqs, their designs are all made on the computer. From there, they take it to Syracuse Screen Printing where it is printed. “We try to keep our clothing quality very high with custom neck tags,” said Katsarsky. Each piece of clothing has a customized tag with the company’s name printed on the inside of the shirt near the neckline.

Katsarsky started up PRA just as a thing to do for fun, but it has turned out to be much more professional. The company has been having pop-up sales to sell and promote their clothing outside of the J-D district. Usually the merchandise is sold online but during a pop-up sale, pre-made clothing is brought to the sale and sold. The future of PRA right now is unknown. Katsarsky is devoted to the company, but there is no definite plan yet. “I feel like I won’t be able to fully expand the way I want it to until I’m out of college,” said Katsarsky. Students at J-D who work in the company, along with Katsarsky, will help bring and promote PRA into the different colleges they each attend. “Even though we won’t be in the same area, we will still work together,” added Katsarsky.

Prime Roots is promoted mainly through Instagram but also through people wearing their clothing. “Our best selling item right now are our galaxy crewnecks,” said Katsarsky. These crewnecks were the product of their collaboration with AliJaqs. Since freshman Rosario Digristina knows Katsarsky as a friend, he sometimes helps by giving his opinions on designs for PRA. “I like to help out the small companies at J-D,” said Digristina. “I like their designs too,” he added. Sophomore Brian Cieplicki says that he decides to wear PRA’s clothing because “chicks dig it.” “The clothing is comfortable to wear and intensifies the quality of my day,” said Cieplicki.

“Since I was a kid, I have been making sketches of shirts and clothing,” said sophomore Joe Morgan about the idea behind his clothing line, Rarity. Seeing other people start their own clothing lines inspired Morgan to take his ideas and begin working. He runs the line with people outside of J-D, his official business partner, a sophomore from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, Brooke Collum. The two work very well together due to their similar styles and interests. “We both wanted to do something unique and cool with the clothing line,” added Morgan.

The clothing for Rarity is produced the same way as the clothing for Prime Roots Apparel; through Syracuse Screen Printing Company. “I order from different bulk companies that sell blank garments then I draft different designs either by hand or on Adobe Illustrator,” said Morgan. The screen printing method uses ink to print the design on the clothing while the vinyl print uses a special dye cut material.

“I use a lot of aspects that are prominent in today’s popular culture (in the designs),” said Morgan which includes the logo for his company. The logo comes from Morgan’s interest in the Illuminati and the “all seeing eye.” Morgan believes his company is unique from others because he keeps the style very simple but still fresh. As of now, Morgan has four designs that can be ordered with custom colors. “Word of mouth helps spread news about my company,” said Morgan. Morgan is working on making a website but in the meantime, he uses Facebook (Rarity Apparel) and Instagram to promote Rarity. Sophomore Adrian Autry loves to help out his friends and purchase clothing from Rarity. “It’s good for students to do something like this with their extra time,” said Autry about students starting their own clothing lines. Stone agrees that it is good for students because it prepares them for the future. “It’s an awesome idea for students to make money,” sophomore Emily Hauser explained.

In the future, Morgan sees his clothing line progressing and expanding. “Come spring time, I’m dropping a girls line,” said Morgan. Also coming up, Morgan is planning to release a lacrosse line. The logo for the lacrosse line will feature a silhouetted figure of former Syracuse lacrosse player, Jovan Miller, on the articles of clothing produced. Morgan sees his line as “on the bubble” between professional and just for fun since Morgan is only 15 years old. However, Morgan sees the clothing as fun to make and seeing people around Syracuse wearing Rarity as a bonus. “My final goal is to have my clothing sold in various skate shops,” added Morgan.