Sometimes casual observers compare the steeples of Healy Hall to the spires of J.K. Rowling’s storied castle at Hogwarts. At Georgetown there are more CHARMS housing arrangements than charm spells, but with student entrepreneurs like junior Albert Eisenberg (COL ’13) among our ranks, we certainly have our share of wiz-kids.
Eisenberg founded start-up T-shirt company Harry Tees after facing rejection from the cutthroat summer internship process. Instead of zoning out and queuing up a Harry Potter film on Netflix, Eisenberg recognized a niche to be filled: clothing for Hogwarts enthusiasts in the college setting. “I’ve always wanted a shirt that says ‘Slytherins have more fun,’ and the clothing options if you love [Harry Potter] are really tacky and geared towards tweens,” Eisenberg said. “I thought there was a really big gap in the market because the series means more to my age group than it does to a 10-year-old today.”
Slytherins may have more fun, but hard work was in store for Eisenberg. “There was just a ton of research. I needed to not only see what I would have to do to begin this company, but whether it would be financially workable,” Eisenberg said.
Besides spending weeks brainstorming design ideas in the first floor dungeon of Lauinger Library, Eisenberg faced big questions regarding his product: Where could he print? How could he get the designs printed? How could he logistically mange it all? Eisenberg even faced piles of paperwork to register his business with the government — the type of bureaucratic processes that would make even Ministry of Magic employees cringe. As a Baker Scholar, Corpie, New Student Orientation adviser and member of GU Student Rights Initiative, one must wonder if a time turner was involved in the process.
“There is a big difference between the grand idea of starting your own company and actually bringing that vision to fruition,” Eisenberg said. “Self-confidence is a huge factor, especially once I actually received the shirts and it was like, ‘Oh, I have my product. Now what?'”
Eisenberg’s extensive preparation, design drafting and research paid off with great sales for his shirts and satisfied customers. While currently the shirts have been designed with a focus on Harry Potter styling, Eisenberg’s success has encouraged him to look beyond the book series. “If you see any Hoyas sporting a tank with Nicki Minaj on it in the near future, you’ll know why,” said Eisenberg of some future possible designs.
“Perspective is key. Worries about not breaking even start to dissolve when you realize how little impact the money that you’re going to make or lose from a given business makes on the big picture of your life,” Eisenberg said to other Hoyas with entrepreneurial sights. “It’s hackneyed at this point to say that the regrets most people have are centered around opportunities not taken, but there’s a reason why it’s a cliché: because it’s true.”
Check out the website and see some of Eisenberg’s designs. Most of the shirts are centered on Hogwarts house pride. If you’re in doubt, there is a link included in the website to a Sorting Hat quiz to settle your uncertainty.
“There are factors about Harry Tees that make this much more than a random website you’d buy a shirt from. In buying a T-shirt, you’re keeping alive the most important series of books for many people of our generation,” Eisenberg said, “[and] you’re supporting the Georgetown community. Ingenuity breeds ingenuity.”
Break out the butterbeer to that, fellow Hoyas.