Graduating high school is a milestone. For many, the next step is pursuing a college degree. If that’s the route one decides to take, a myriad of options make the decisions that ensure the future you desire is secured.
From choosing the right school to finding the major that fits – it can be an overwhelming task, especially if you add in the extra pressure of tuition costs. And for some, all of the above decisions seem to come together, but once they arrive, it becomes clear that a traditional college path may not be the best journey for success.
Justis Pitt-Goodson came to this realization and has not looked back since, bringing in $27,000 per month from his clothing brand.
BrownMill is the successful clothing brand Pitt-Goodson runs today, but his story didn’t begin with his five-figure-per-month success.
According to CNBC Make It, Pitt-Goodson got his start by making bow ties in middle school. However, in high school, the pieces started to come together. While there, he met his two future business partners, Taha Shimou and Kwaku Agyemang.
“From an early age, I’ve always been like a hustler, an entrepreneur,” Pitt-Goodson told CNBC Make It. “I don’t know where I got it from. Mom says I got it from my father, who was also an entrepreneur. So maybe it’s something that’s genetic.”
After graduating high school, the 26-year-old CEO studied business management at Rutgers University-Newark. While studying there, he also interned in New York with stylists and fashion brands.
“I’m interning with stylists, so I’m learning different parts of every piece of the business of fashion,” Pitt-Goodson explained. “I think all that mixed with going to the business school at the same time really helped shape an idea and give me a vision for what I wanted this company to look like.”
After completing two years at Rutgers, Pitt-Godson dropped out of school to fully pursue his clothing brand.
With a new focus to take his brand to the next level, his plans got hit with a hard pause. Shortly after dropping out, Pitt-Goodson’s mom was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer and his girlfriend at the time became pregnant with their son.
Adhering to this new reality wasn’t easy, but he made it happen. Pitt-Goodson took a job at The RealReal, paying $17.50 per hour to keep things afloat in his new reality.
“It was a job that was more about production and pace rather than quality of work,” Pitt-Goodson says. “I just felt like a machine. I had a big quota every day, and I would ultimately have no time to think about what I was doing. I knew it wasn’t serving me. It wasn’t serving my spirit, and before I could quit, they fired me.”
After experiencing what seemed to be another blow to his future, Pitt-Goodson remained focused and started operating BrownMill out of his family’s New Jersey Home.
Learning the continued art of pivoting, Pitt-Goodson and his business partners kept promoting the brand and hosting pop-up events until the onset of the pandemic. This did not deter their dream to open a physical store, however. To do that, the three men raised money through subscription packages, crowdfunding, and socially distanced pop-up shops.
The pop-up shop model proved to be the most lucrative, allowing BrownMill to get money upfront to buy new machines that assisted with scaling the company.
In 2020, the company raked in $86,000, with $7,000 of that going toward the deposit for a brick-and-mortar Newark, NJ, store that eventually opened in June 2021.
“I recognized a shopping culture in Newark that I didn’t appreciate [yet].”
From this moment, BrownMill was shooting up with no indication of ever coming back down.
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Today the brand is recognized and worn by former NBA player Dwyane Wade.
“The stylist came in and bought a whole bunch of items, and ultimately Dwyane Wade liked them and started rocking them,” Pitt-Goodson explained.
Besides Wade rocking the brand, BrownMill attracts an array of NBA players and brought in $327,000 in revenue, based on documents obtained by CNBC Make It.
This year, the company is on track to bring in $1 million in revenue, looking to double that figure by next year. In addition to revenue growth, Pitt-Goodson and the team want to open additional stores in Los Angeles, Atlanta, or Accra, Ghana.