Photos courtesy of Hugh Steiner

Student’s Start-up Clothing Company Takes Off

By Bailey Cichon – If you take a walk around Marshfield High School on a student designated ‘Generic Tuesday’, you’ll find the halls flooded with shirts that read, “This shirt is cool”.

The back is branded with a small logo for a company called GenericTee. The popularity of these generic t-shirts isn’t the result of a million-dollar advertising ploy targeting teenagers. You won’t find a GenericTee ad on TV or in a magazine. How then did these shirts spread like a wildfire throughout Marshfield High School? The answer lies in young entrepreneur and high school junior, Hugh Steiner.

“Last spring I started talking to some friends, I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if I made shirts that said “this shirt is cool” on them? I would call the brand GenericTee because it’s ironic.’,” said Steiner.

Steiner created the start-up clothing company on September 8th, 2017. The brand carries one design, the GenericTee Original, a white tee shirt with “This shirt is cool” on the front in black lettering and the GenericTee logo on the back.

Hugh Steiner, the brains and creativity behind GenericTee

“I was curious to see whether I could start a business, and I thought it would be an experiment to see if people would grab onto a movement,” explained Steiner. “It’s supposed to be making fun of brands who sell a label. This is like selling a ‘generic’ label that is truly not generic. I just tried to make it simple… and basic, black on white.”

Social media has played a role in GenericTee’s success. The brand’s Instagram page has no posts, staying true to the minimalist strategy that has made GenericTee so popular among teens. GenericTee followers are invited to use #generictee in their posts to kickstart the “GenericTee revolution”.

GenericTee followers have provided all of the content that can be found on GenericTee’s Instagram. Look through the ‘Photos of genericteeclothing’ tab and you’ll find consumer content.

“My marketing strategy is just word of mouth because that’s a very effective form of marketing. Eventually if it takes off as a success, I’ll definitely try to do more social media,” he said. “[A person interested in purchasing GenericTee] can go to the website genericteeclothing.com and it’s a fully set up e-commerce site. You can use a credit card, debit card, Apple pay, all that.”

Steiner has sold 21 GenericTee Originals so far. His customer base has even expanded outside of Wisconsin. Steiner is aware of the potential of GenericTee.

“The ultimate goal is to spread it from school to school and eventually, nationally,” he said.

As for “Generic Tuesday,” MHS Senior Jordan Dzikowich said, “It’s every other Tuesday, and… Hugh puts out a notification to wear the GenericTee and blue jeans.”

Each “Generic Tuesday” has had more participants than the last.

“This last so called ‘Generic Tuesday’ when there were about seven people wearing [the GenericTee], I walked past teachers in the hallway and they said, ‘There’s our young entrepreneur,’ and I thought to myself, ‘well people really know about this now!’,” said Steiner.

“…The main reason I joined the said bandwagon was because I wanted to support Hugh in his work, and I felt like the only way to support Hugh… was to encourage others to [buy shirts],” said Dzikowich. “GenericTee is a great example that young adolescents, such as Hugh… can make and potentially start a fairly successful trade;”

“I think this is the first step for Hugh. He will only see more from here… I can only hope that his GenericTee endeavors will inspire other entrepreneurs,” added Bentley Northup, MHS Senior Class President and GenericTee customer.

Steiner’s creative entrepreneurship is just one example of students doing great things in the Marshfield community. Instead of enjoying the celebrity as GenericTee creator, Steiner is plotting the future of GenericTee.

“You could possibly see a generic sweatshirt coming to cater to the winter weather and some other tee shirt designs and possibly a snapback hat also with the logo on it,” he said.

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