What do a 50-year-old master gardener, a 26-year-old baseball-player-turned-construction worker and a 29-year-old freelance graphic designer have in common besides their Bellarmine degrees? They are all clothiers—people who make, sell or deal in clothing. Here, they catalog their inspirations, and how their Bellarmine experiences helped to shape their careers.
Logan Manford ’10/’15 MBA | BLoFISH Clothing
Entrepreneur Carroll “Logan” Manford summarizes BLōFISH Clothing as “the world’s first non-gender specific clothing company.” He runs BLōFISH, which offers hats, tank tops, T-shirts, and bracelets, online and out of his Louisville home. A retail store is planned at 714 E. Market St.
Mr. Manford played Knights baseball for four years, graduated with a degree in business and began working for his grandfather’s construction company. While earning his MBA from Bellarmine, he started BLōFISH in 2014, motivated by friends who complained about the fit of their clothes and spurred on by his BU connections. “A couple of professors had tremendous impact on me. Dr. John Byrd offered me great advice and support; in every one of Dr. Robert Brown’s classes I learned something useful about the business world; and Dr. Dan Bauer pushed me to pursue BLōFISH and gave me the confidence to take the leap.” He still uses the W.L. Lyons Brown Library late at night when he needs quiet time to work on his ideas.
“I love designing clothes that anyone can wear and look good in,” he said, “and no matter one’s sex, race, religion, sexual orientation or abilities, everybody can look good in our products.” With BLōFISH, he has developed a sizing system to address what he termed the “archaic” men’s and women’s sizes of today. “We have developed our own sizing scale of 1 to 5 for the traditional men’s and women’s small-medium-large equivalents for our products.”
While growing substantially through online sales, BLōFISH has also participated in Pride Festivals across the country. Colleges and universities are now being included in the “Team BLōFISH” tour. “Our slogan, ‘All 4 All,’ reflects the belief that everyone should have the same opportunities in life, no matter your gender, race, sexual preference, religious beliefs, or abilities.” BLōFISH also donates 10% of its sales—not profits—to a different charity every month.
“Our short-term goals are making our website more user-friendly, launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for new products and opening local stores,” he said. Long-term, he plans to have stores across the nation.
“My mentors at Bellarmine provided me with business skills that I now apply to make decisions and grow the brand,” he said, “but I don’t want a thousand products—I only want to offer clothes that people love.”
James Ray MBA ’14 | Beyond the Pen Clothing
James Ray is a creative dynamo of positive thinking who cares about inspiring his customers to strive for success as much as he does about product sales.
He sees Beyond the Pen Clothing, which he established in 2012 with business partner Keith Nash (with a shout out to Scott Hebert), as being about more than clothes. “It’s about showing others that you can literally go beyond the pen and paper to whatever goal you set,” he said. “I love streetwear clothing, so I decided to go into that business. My goal is not only to provide ‘fresh’ apparel but also to inspire and motivate people within the community to go ‘beyond the pen’ to pursue whatever positive ideas they think of!”
While obtaining his MBA at Bellarmine, Mr. Ray developed respect for Dr. Dan Bauer (“He doesn’t accept mediocrity”) and Dr. Robert Brown (“A great motivator—he taught me that if you can think of it, you can make it happen”). A business analyst for a consulting firm in Louisville by day and an entrepreneur by night, he was greatly influenced by the team-oriented approach of Bellarmine’s School of Business.
“Growing up in the African-American and hip-hop streetwear culture,” he said, “I just always had a love for style and all it entails.” At Bellarmine, “I learned how to take my ‘street smart’ instincts and apply them in a more structured business mindset that grows our company on a daily basis.”
Beyond the Pen sells custom clothing that includes jerseys, tees, sweatshirts and jogging pants. “When you look good, you feel good,” Mr. Ray said. “I love to make people happy in general, and this is a fun and creative way to make them happy via apparel.” He currently sells his clothing online and at Established Premium Goods, a downtown Louisville boutique.
Mr. Ray also designed all the camp wear for the upcoming 2016 Louisville basketball camp conducted by NBA star Rajon Rondo, a friend since middle school.
Although he monitors streetwear clothing trends, “we are more about providing a proper brand alignment with our customers,” he said. His short-term goal is to grow the company’s Instagram following from 3,500 to 5,000. His long-term goal? “To have our brand picked up by top nationally known streetwear boutiques.” A strong believer in the power of random acts of kindness, Ray also has plans to mentor inner-city youth to reach their potential.
Scott Osborne ’89 | Tom James Company
Scott Osborne earned an economics degree at Bellarmine and was inspired by favorite professors Bernie Thiemann and Clyde Crews. However, his professional life took a different direction into sales, and in 1992 he became associated with Tom James, the world’s largest manufacturer and retailer of custom clothing. “What attracted me to this profession was outside sales,” he said. “I love not being confined to an office.”
According to Mr. Osborne, Tom James is one of the few remaining “vertically integrated” clothing retailers, meaning that the company controls the entire manufacturing process, “from sheep to suit.”
Tom James has no brick-and-mortar stores; Mr. Osborne brings the individualized wardrobe service to the customer. “My clients never wait in line, fight for parking, or covet a garment that doesn’t come in their size.” He is supported by all of Tom James’ resources, including hundreds of hours of training, nearly unlimited fabric and styling choices and the technology of the digital age. The company does no advertising. “My business grows by word-of-mouth and referral,” he said.
Mr. Osborne loves that he can adapt to the needs of his clients, whether it’s relieving them of the time and hassle of shopping for their wardrobes, or solving their fit or selection issues. He maintains a detailed wardrobe analysis for each client. Significantly, a considerable percentage of his annual sales comes from repeat business.
“The most rewarding client relationships are those that allow me to serve as a consultant,” he said. “Most successful business people and professionals have accountants, attorneys and financial advisors to help with their business life. I’m that person for their professional appearance, helping to package their outside appearance to match their professions.”
In his leisure time, Mr. Osborne is very active in community affairs, serving as a Jefferson County master gardener, an Olmsted Parks steward, a certified water quality tester for Salt River Watershed Watch and a board member for Louisville Grows. “I always highly regarded the university’s motto, In Veritatis Amore—In the Love of Truth,” Osborne said, “and I have nourished a lifelong love of reading and discovering new things about our world. I am truly living out the liberal arts education that I received at Bellarmine.”
By Harry Rothgerber ’69
Photos by Jessica Ebelhar