Retro’d: Connecting Alumni and Current Students with Buff and Brown

Jada Johnson ’24 and Flora Kim ’24 sought inspiration from George School’s past, bringing back buff and brown to launch a fashion startup for the new entrepreneurship course that was created for the Signature Academic Program. You can purchase your Retro’d wear here.

Entrepreneurship has been important to both Jada and Flora since they were young. “I have always had a vision of being my own boss,” said Jada. “When I was younger, I started my first venture–selling crayon lipsticks. I sold them at my church and my whole family supported me. I remember that feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment that comes after starting a business, which is why I chose to take the entrepreneurship class with Heather [Mooney] at George School.”

“My father is an entrepreneur and runs our family business,” said Flora. “I decided to take the entrepreneurship class because I wanted to better understand what my family went through in launching the business. I knew Heather was going to be teaching the class, so I was excited by the prospect of learning business and entrepreneurship from her.”

The new entrepreneurship class is an exciting opportunity for students to pursue their interests in learning about topics that would fall outside of a traditional high school education. Students not only learn about theoretical concepts but also experiment with real-world applications. “The objective of the course is to make back the initial investment given to us by George School’s Chief Financial Officer Michael Toohey and the Business Office,” explained Jada. “Flora and I hope to do that, but our personal goal is to make a profit.”

“We figured out early on that it was going to be a major challenge to come up with an original idea that we could actually pull off,” said Flora. “There are so many implications in launching a startup. We explored a lot of ideas before we landed on Retro’d. Jada and I both had conversations with other students about the old George School merchandise. Everyone we talked to loves the old buff and brown merchandise, so we thought it would be cool to bring it back.”

Buff and brown is an iconic color scheme in George School’s history. Many current students only know of green and white as the school’s official colors, so Jada and Flora had to do some research when creating their retro design(s). “While looking through the archives, we both got the feeling that Retro’d is the business we had to create,” continued Flora. “It was so amazing to learn about the history of George School.”

“By bringing back buff and brown, we hope to build a connection between alumni and current students,” said Jada. “We looked through many of the yearbooks to find inspiration for our designs.”

Overcoming hurdles is part of any startup, and this team of amazing students rose to every challenge that presented itself during their entrepreneurial journey. “One significant hurdle that we experienced in building Retro’d is that we went way over our budget,” said Jada. “We created our design through Custom Ink, which for forty shirts, would have cost over $1,000–way over our initial budget of $200. To address the cost issue, we looked to partner with the school store to use one of their vendors to get a lower price. Flora and I are working to overcome that hurdle and keep moving forward.”

“I appreciate that even though we were over budget, neither Heather or Michael turned our idea down,” continued Flora. “Instead, they guided us and helped us figure out a way to make our business happen. Maddy from the school store has been supporting us–connecting us with vendors to get a better price.”

Coming up with the name for the business has been a very interesting process for Jada and Flora. They tossed around many names and slogans before finally deciding on the slogan ‘Wear the Past.’ It was catchy and fit their mission to connect people with George School’s history through fashion.

Having a structured learning environment has helped mold both Jada and Flora’s entrepreneurial instincts. “All of the learning in Heather’s class happened in the first mod. In class, we practiced pitching and played a game where we had to build a business to address a specific problem for a specific group of people,” explained Jada. “The game was fun, but it also helped us to understand how to pitch. We learned how to fill out a business model canvas. The first mod prepared us for launching a startup. The second mod was all about experimenting and brainstorming to get our businesses going.”

“The course taught us skills with real world applications. It was not just giving us theories about business topics,” described Flora. “It was a hands-on experience, which is why I liked this course. The most important lesson that I learned is that it is ok to fail, followed by the importance of perseverance as a close second. Your ideas are not always going to be the most original and may not always work out, but this process taught me that you need to accept those things from the beginning. Jada and I went through so many ideas and names/slogans for our business, but that is the beauty of it. We learned and improved each time we met in class.”

“I am glad that we were not afraid to totally shift our focus, even though a lot of work and time might be lost,” added Jada.

Flora wants to use the knowledge and skills learned through the course for whatever comes next after George School. “Whether it is college or being an entrepreneur in the real world, I am excited to apply what I am learning now in the future. I really encourage students to take this course. I am having a great experience learning from Heather and the class. Jada and I have been a really good team and I am appreciative that we are doing this together.”

“Our goal for Retro’d is to get our product line launched before Alumni Weekend,” said Flora. “We have prepared for preorders that will launch with this edition of Under the Trees, and we hope to deliver the products before Alumni Weekend.”

You can preorder from the Retro’d line here.