Ben Goldsmith ‘21, a VPA Communication and Rhetorical Studies (CRS) major and co-founder of POPCYCLE, remembers the feeling he had after his company’s first ever student-brand clothing popup.
“It felt like we were soldiers coming home from a battle we had just won,” he said.
The pop-up, located inside of the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars in Bird Library, featured clothes made by students at Syracuse University. Goldsmith says that more than 4,000 people came to shop around that day. By the end, Goldsmith said he and his team were in pain, tired, aching, but smiling at their fullest.
That day was proof his idea could work, an idea first concocted months earlier. Goldsmith is one of the hundreds of student entrepreneurs that have leveraged the expertise and other resources at the LaunchPad to grow his business. POPCYCLE launched their website this September with huge success.
Goldsmith has always been a project leader. Growing up in Cherry Hill, N.J., Goldsmith started a program to broadcast all of his high school’s sports games. He would bring a phone and a tripod to the games and stream it to the world, getting around 6,000 viewers in the process.
“That was my first chance to be a leader,” Goldsmith said. “I got to bring something to a whole new level with just my passion.”
When he made it to college, he decided to major in communication and rhetorical studies and creative writing. Throughout his years, he met so many students with their own clothing brands creating great clothes. But he also noticed that many of them lacked access to physical stores and were stuck in the same cycle of trying to sell on Instagram.
So, he asked himself, “How can I help?”
Sitting in his dorm room, he started to ferociously plan.
“I knew what could happen if I had this idea and took it seriously,” he said.
His first step was to begin meeting with brands. One of his first sessions was with Jackson Ensley, who he discovered shared his passion and entrepreneurial spirit. Goldsmith said the conversation quickly shifted from a client conversation to that of a partner.
The two set out to make POPCYLCE what it is today. They gathered faculty advisors, experts from the Whitman School of Management and Fashion Design department in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Goldsmith said Linda Hartsock, executive director of the LaunchPad helped connect them with people they needed to execute their concept.
“Go to someone who is smarter than you,” Goldsmith said as advice to others trying to start a business.
Since that first meeting, POPCYLCE has hosted two student clothing pop-ups, started a website, and grown a team around the vision.
Their biggest hurdle, Goldsmith said, is explaining their idea. He says he has to alter how he explains it based on who he talks to. Explaining POPCYCLE to designers looks very different than explaining it to investors, Goldsmith added.
POPCYCLE is only going to grow, Goldsmith said. They plan to expand to other colleges in the next couple of years and beyond, with a lofty goal to help student-owned clothing brands market their clothes to the world.
Story by LaunchPad Global Fellow Patrick Linehan ’21; photo by the LaunchPad