Will Brunner kept some of his notes and favorite textbooks after graduating from Texas Christian University with an entrepreneurial management degree in 2003, not realizing that those items would help him and his brother, Robert, launch a men’s golf clothing company a decade later.
“They actually came very handy in writing our business plan,” Will Brunner said.
Will Brunner, 34, and Robert Brunner, 28, started their company, Devereux, in 2013. Will is director of operations and Robert is the creative director, in charge of clothing design. The company carries a collection of shirts, sweaters, pants and hats.
On Sept. 15, Devereux announced its newest line, Paris @ Night, a series of six polo designs inspired by the fashion and culture of France, Robert said.
Some of the shirts in the collection come in the “gothic grape” color, which pays homage to TCU purple, according to a news release.
“It’s a wonderful university for the both of us to hone your craft in education and learning throughout,” Robert said. “It’s a small community, great people.”
The Brunners grew up in Midland and had enjoyed playing golf since they were teenagers. Their parents, Robert and Cathryn Brunner, both went to TCU, and the brothers followed suit, with Will majoring in entrepreneurial management and Robert in geology.
Robert said he had originally planned to go into the oil and gas business, but upon graduating in 2011 he realized his passion didn’t quite match his degree.
“I never really spoke up about what I wanted to do, or my dreams, or what I wanted, because I didn’t see that actually being a reality in my life,” he said.
What he really wanted to pursue was clothing design. So, without knowing anything about the industry, he went back to school at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. There, he learned the science behind how clothing is made and how fibers work together to make garments.
“It’s kind of like the behind-the-scenes and really understanding how fibers work,” Robert said. “Like cotton and polyester — cotton’s a natural fiber, and how well it works against the skin, and how polyester is a synthetic fiber and works better for athletic environments and moisture wicking.”
When he finished fashion school, he said, he wanted to pursue golf clothing but wasn’t the biggest fan of the gaudy, neon-colored attire he was seeing on professional golfers.
Instead, Robert wanted to design something that could be worn both on and off the golf course without having the “just stepped off the golf course” look, Will said.
Seeing his brother’s passion for the business, Will decided to join in. That’s when he pulled out his old college notes and textbooks to help draw up a business plan for the company.
The director of TCU’s Neeley Entrepreneurship Center, Brad Hancock, didn’t get a chance to teach Will, but he said he is acquainted with the brothers and their company. He said he’s glad to see Will’s class experience translate into the real world.
“Sometimes we think academics are just something you do in the classroom and then you go out in real life and figure it out,” Hancock said. “I think an entrepreneurial management degree, like Will got, really can be applied.”
The brothers named the company Devereux after their grandmother, a “very fashionable and elegant woman,” communications assistant Hayley Girard said.
Through networking, the brothers connected with an investor from Texas working in the oil and gas business. They were able to launch their business with the help of that single investor.
The Brunners hired a director of sales, Brian Lohman, who had previously worked for Tommy Hilfiger. Through Lohman’s connections, Devereux got the attention of retailers. Now, 300 retailers in the United States, Canada and Mexico carry Devereux.
In Dallas-Fort Worth, the products are being sold at Colonial Country Club and River Crest Country Club.
The clothing is made in Peru and China and sold directly to retailers in the United States and Mexico. In Canada, the clothing is distributed by G&G Golf Co.
Devereux also sponsors professional golfers who wear the clothing while on tour; among them are PGA Tour player Zack Sucher, Web.com Tour player Stephan Jaeger and Latin America Tour player Ian Davis. Golf Channel personalities, Morning Drive co-host Damon Hack and The Big Break contestant Jimmy Brandt also wear Devereux.
Robert said he wants the company to expand to beyond just golf wear to menswear in general.
But no matter what the brothers decide to do, Hancock said he wouldn’t be surprised if Will’s old textbooks and notes make a comeback again.
“That’s one thing about entrepreneurship,” Hancock said. “The things that you learn, even though it’s an evolving and changing discipline, they carry with you forever and ever. I think if Will and Robert start another business, they’ll probably use those same notes and those same textbooks as the cornerstone.”