Headed by Sales Director Sophia Ronga (COL ’18), the Georgetown branch of the custom apparel company Fresh Prints has established a growing presence on and around campus, handling clothing orders for various student groups and events on the Hilltop.
Ronga became involved with the company her freshman year after seeing a post in a Georgetown Admissions Ambassadors Program Facebook group. Ronga said the chance to both make money in a business and interact with people really appealed to her.
“She posted something along the lines of ‘Do you like to talk to people?’ and ‘Do you like to make money?’ I was like, ‘yes and yes,’” Ronga said.
After the senior who recruited Ronga graduated, Ronga took on a more involved role in the company. She now manages all of the company’s sales operations at Georgetown.
Throughout her time at Fresh Prints, Ronga says the company’s sales at Georgetown have skyrocketed. When she took over, the company was selling about $10,000 worth of merchandise per year. Her first semester, she sold $14,000 worth of merchandise and two years later expects to see $30,000 in sales this semester alone.
Currently, Fresh Prints operates at 120 campuses nationwide and is aiming to be at 2,500 four-year universities in the United States — nearly every university in the country — within the next few years.
Fresh Prints apparel can be found all around campus, as they have provided T-shirts for the Internation Relations Club, GAAP and Senior Week. Fresh Prints fulfills smaller orders from small groups of students who want shirts for Georgetown Day as well.
Ronga finds clients in a variety of ways, including posting in GAAP Facebook groups and reaching out to student leaders directly. Additionally, potential clients who have become familiar by word-of-mouth sometimes approach her. After sorting out logistical and design details with clients, she works directly with the company to take care of the rest.
Running the business is not always without its challenges. From last-minute changes to technical issues, Ronga takes everything in stride and works with clients to provide what they need. Ronga said they often deal with last-minute changes and work to accommodate all client requests.
“It’s almost never something we can’t solve. We want to be that company where, if you come to us five days after you placed the order and say you want more shirts, we’re always going to try our best to do that,” said Ronga.
Since many orders come in from Georgetown student organizations, Ronga said she has to be careful not to step on the university’s toes when it comes to using Georgetown’s trademarked name.
“The biggest problem is probably licensing. It can be very ambiguous, so if you want us to put ‘Georgetown’ on a shirt, it’s technically a neighborhood but the university has a lot of stuff trademarked, so you just want to make sure you can get all of that approved,” Ronga said. “It’s trying to meet student needs while balancing what’s appropriate for the university.”
Fresh Prints, itself started and run by student entrepreneurs, aims to provide a business opportunity for like-minded students. Co-president of Fresh Prints Jacob Goodman said the company provides students a practical skillset and educational experience that can’t be found in the classroom.
“The goal of the campus manager program is to provide a platform for entrepreneurial education for college students. We want to provide students with resources to start and run their own businesses, because universities are failing miserably at teaching entrepreneurship,” Goodman said.
According to Ronga, working at Fresh Prints has given her the opportunity to run part of a business very independently, understanding what it takes not only to manage a business but to maintain high levels of quality and customer satisfaction.
“I would say 95 percent of what I do is autonomous. That said, I do get really great support from my bosses. But, when it comes to making decisions about price and stuff like that, that comes down to me,” said Ronga. “It’s very student-driven, and we’re going to do our best to give the best apparel possible and meet student demands.”