High school assignment turns into business
February 17, 2012
Park City High School student Sam Barsketis is an entrepreneur. The 17-year-old started Simis Clothing Company over his holiday break last December, recruiting help from his teachers, friends, his parents and a business owner in Salt Lake City. Simis Clothing is an idea that originated as a homework assignment, but the modest and growing label is something Barsketis believes has serious potential.
"It’s my dream to own and operate a business," Barsketis said.
"It does sound cliché, but if you have a dream, you need to take the first step today."
The business started after Barsketis and a group of friends created another company, 9 Under, that dissolved as other distractions began to take over. Unsatisfied with giving up, Barsketis decided to take the idea back to the drawing board. That’s when Simis Clothing Company was born.
"My heart was in business," he said. "I wanted to stick with the idea, so that’s when I decided to go independent."
The company’s humble beginnings started with faceguards, a simple piece of cloth to protect his face from the elements that his mother helped him design. Friends started asking Barsketis if they could get one too. Suddenly, people he never met were coming up to him about the faceguards.
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"The more I handed them out to my friends, the more strangers were coming up to me asking if they could buy one," Barsketis said. "My mom told me if we kept making them, we might as well start charging."
The product is exactly what Barsketis wanted it to be: simple and affordable, with Simis written down the side of the mask in fabric marker.
"It feels super authentic," he said. "People like that they have one of the first Simis products ever made, and I think that’s because people think this brand is going somewhere. Simis is going to be really big someday and now they have one of the original products."
The new business isn’t all fun and games though. The high school senior works out of the family basement, a laptop serving as the major nerve center of his business. Barsketis received his first big shipment from Salt Lake City last week, which means a few thousand dollars worth of clothing is stacked and hung along his basement wall. He’s already started selling hoodies and hats, and in a week he sold nearly a quarter of his inventory.
"I just entered this marketplace that’s so above me," he said, "but people are starting to look at me like I’m a part of it. It’s a roller coaster, because even though I stress a lot I see a lot of results."
Competitive skiers and snowboarders around the Park City resorts use Barsketis’s facemask to help promote the brand. Barsketis also recently sold several hats to someone in California and he’s seeing a growing market at the University of Utah.
"You should use your community to help you," he said. "Soak up as much as you can."
Barsketis built a website with an online store and has been pushing social media. He also plans on trying to find retailers in Park City to pick up his brand. All his work is paying off, he said. When he pulls into the parking lot in the morning, cars he doesn’t recognize have a Simis sticker on the bumper.
"It’s spreading," he said, "and that’s free marketing, which I love."
As summer approaches, Barsketis plans to expand the brand by adding tank tops, clothing for women and maybe even skateboards.
"I believe that entrepreneurship should start when you have the good idea," Barsketis said. "People shouldn’t have to wait till they’re older. I mean, I may just be a senior in high school but the million-dollar idea starts the instant you take action. Don’t wait."
Simis Clothing Company