It all started with an idea to create a quirky t-shirt based on former Michigan quarterback Jim Harbaugh's agreement to return to his alma mater and coach the Wolverines football team. Zach Bruch and a few friends figured they could manufacture and sell shirts with the mark "Ann Arbaugh," a play on words between Ann Arbor (the home of the University of Michigan) and Harbaugh.
The profitability of that venture has led to the creation of a business for Bruch, with a new shirt based on the Golden State Warriors' success being sought after by willing and interested consumers. Bruch is now conducting business on his own.
His second project is to market and distribute "The Greatest of All Time 73-9″ shirts to anyone who appreciates the the regular season record once belonging to the Chicago Bulls and overcome by the Warriors' brilliant play this season. make the Western Conference Finals, sales will boost up all over again," said Bruch. "The largest upside is when they win the NBA Championship."
It's not simply selling t-shirts on a whim
When the Chicago Bulls set the record for wins in a single season at 72, guard Ron Harper created a t-shirt for the occasion. The shirts said, "72-10 don't mean a thing without the ring."
In Bruch's research, he discovered that the shirts did about $75,000 in sales. "I don't see any reason why we won't reach that mark within the next two months," said Bruch. "Ann Arbaugh had a lot of success moving product through bookstores," added Bruch. "It gave me the necessary experience with how to roll out product efficiency and beat the competition, especially with number of shirts available and people competing in the space. I have a competitive advantage because I've done it in the past."
How Bruch became a businessman
Bruch actually did not plan to become a businessman focused in the realm of fashion and intellectual property. But Ann Arbaugh created an amazing opportunity for him that he could not pass up.
"This is what I'm now pursuing after school," said Bruch, who graduates from Michigan next week. "I'm trying to work with different musicians, entertainers, actors. Last year, I could have never imagined getting into branding and licensing. Now it's becoming a reality for me."
Entrepreneurs do not always plan ahead, but when they see an opportunity, they pounce. That is certainly what happened with Bruch, who hopes that early success with Ann Arbor translates into sales for his new Warriors-related merchandise and much more down the line.
Is there anything to be concerned about?
Bruch has to be at least slightly worried that the Warriors will wonder whether his enterprise is a violation of the franchise's intellectual property rights. It is not concerning him in the meantime.
"I am already receiving a lot of push back on the Warriors shirt," said Bruch. "Private sellers are trying to say it's their mark. At this point I'm not really concerned about what they're saying, because we filed a trademark application and have sales in commerce. I have heard nothing yet from the Warriors, but I plan to start reaching out to somehow start a partnership or allegiance with them."