Indiana Area Senior High School

By JOE LUETKEHANS:  A powerful entrepreneurial spirit has struck IHS with the introduction of NextGen Clothing Co, a start-up streetwear brand from the minds of junior students Owen Dougherty and Donovan Robinson.  

In early March, NextGen began selling their screen printed designs to close friends before marketing themselves school-wide.  Credit for the brand’s success is partially due to the simple, yet professional looking logo, the words “NextGen” surrounded by wings. The original inspiration for the name came on a whim during an evening drive, according to Dougherty.  “… I was going through notes on Donovan’s phone and I saw NextGen, and I knew ‘this is it!’”

In the wake of this newfound success, the young proprietors have begun to share their inspirations and hope that others with a similar mindset will be able to find an outlet for their business-minded creativity.  “… We see a lot of young people that are starting to do this kind of thing, and we feel that entrepreneurship is kind of the cool thing to do now… We see this kind of thing on Instagram, young people making brands or selling things and making a lot of money, and it’s a motivation for us,” stated Dougherty, who credits his interest in sneakers, clothing, and their respective resale markets with inspiring him to chase creative and lucrative opportunities.  

According to Robinson, the inspiration for the brand’s design and business strategy is partly due to the efforts of students at Kiski Prep, who made a clothing brand and have found similar success among their peers.  “The closest thing [to an inspiration] for me was that I know this kid who goes to Kiski who also made a clothing brand, and he was making a good amount of money from it, so I thought we should try it out.” With a potential collaboration project with them being hinted at, it appears as if he and Dougherty have no reservations about spreading their influence and brainstorming with those in a similar position.

Junior Bre Smathers, a supporter of NextGen since the brand’s beginnings, says that the passion and drive of the young entrepreneurs is what makes their brand so likable.  “I really like that they came up with the design on their own. It’s really great to see them being creative and doing something they are passionate about. I hope they continue to create new designs and products!”

The Brand’s original slogan “Trust The Process” was plastered along the backside of the first run of shirts, although the Dougherty and Robinson faced a roadblock in the form of a copyright claim.  “Trust The Process,” the longtime slogan and mantra of former Philadelphia 76ers Manager and President Sam Hinkie, was protected by law, forcing the boys to find new inspiration and direction.

The brand has since moved forward in terms of the design and style, with the new slogan “We Are The Future” being found on the next generation of NextGen products.  Dougherty and Robinson have since attempted to expand the scope of their project, stating that a website and new products are soon to come.


[Photo by  Donovan Robinson]

Photo caption:  From Left to Right:  Junior students Mikhail Bajwa, Owen Dougherty, and Donovan Robinson show off NextGen Clothing’s first slogan, “Trust the Process.”


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