Courtesy of Carson Wassmuth
While some college students are focusing on graduation, Carson Wassmuth and Matt Baker are concentrating on running a business.
The duo and three friends opened Tha City Clothing Company at 15 W. First Ave. in the Short North on March 3.
Baker, a third-year in marketing at Ohio State is the brand manager and public relations executive for the company, and Wassmuth, a second-year in international business at Otterbein University and member of the United States Air Force, is CEO.
The idea for Tha City came when the group wanted to design a website that would list Columbus area events.
“We kind of dumped the whole website idea because it was way too hard,” Wassmuth said. “So then we stuck with designing clothes, and now we work with artists all the time and we design clothes together.”
The brand’s lead designer, Anthony Cook, said he draws inspiration for his designs from Columbus, which is also his hometown.
Cook designed a line of Tha City, called “Real Royalty,” which is based on Columbus’ nightlife and the people who go out to “have fun.”
“With the nightlife here, there’s always something going on,” Cook said. “We want people who are wearing our stuff to give off a good look.”
Versatility is important to the owners of Tha City, Cook said.
“We’re working on getting Levi’s jeans inside our store,” he said. “We want our stuff to be paired with other things.”
Tha City is in the midst of planning its new summer lines as well.
One summer line, called “City Vice,” is based on a “‘Miami Vice’ type feel,” Cook said.
He has also designed a line called “Mind of a Mad Man,” inspired by Albert Einstein, which will be released this summer.
This line will feature a “lab coat T-shirt” that has pockets, pen guards and printed chemical stains.
“I thought it was a quirky spin on T-shirts,” Cook said.
While Cook has not been formally trained as an artist, he said he is not opposed to taking some graphic design classes at the Columbus College of Art and Design.
“I can vector my own designs and cut out the middle man,” Cook said.
The brand sends Cook’s designs, usually made with a pen and paper, to a CCAD student to have them vectored into a computer file for screen-printing before sending the designs to the manufacturer.
Tha City’s T-shirts are printed on American Apparel shirts because of their high quality, Cook said.
T-shirt prices range from $20 to $24 and sweatshirt prices range from $30 to $34.
All of Cook’s designs are original, which is what drew brand ambassador and Ohio State football player Stewart Smith to the brand.
“Carson and I were having a conversation and I said that I love to wear things that I know nobody else will have,” Smith, a fourth-year in biology, said in an email. “The idea planted a seed in his mind and when the idea manifested, he called me and asked if I wanted to be a part of it. I jumped at the opportunity.”
As a brand ambassador, Smith said he promotes Tha City designs he thinks will sell to a broader audience.
Cook said it’s a big deal to see the brand’s products being worn by complete strangers on the streets of Columbus.
“Not only do they think our stuff is good enough, they like it enough to be wearing it out,” he said. “If they like it, other people will like it.”