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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Young Entrepreneurs: Fort Clothing puts city attributes on a T-shirt

The Fort Clothing LLC

1228 S. Adams St.

Fort Worth 76104

817-239-8784

https://thefortclothingetc.com/

Family, friends and fashion. That’s The Fort Clothing, a local company run by twin brothers Sam and Campbell Schaefer and their friends sister and brother Bella and Cruz Shope.

The quartet are also former or current Paschal High School students.

“As locals of Fort Worth, it has been such an amazing opportunity to be behind this special Fort Worth brand,” Sam said. “Although we are still college and high school students, we have big plans for this company and its future. Our mission is simple, to show others around Fort Worth how special our city is and all it has to offer.”

Though they are twins, Campbell likes to smile and say that he is the older of the 20-year-old siblings.

“I am older by six minutes,” Campbell joked.

Both are entering their sophomore year at Texas Christian University after graduating from Paschal High School in 2017. Cruz is 19 and is a sophomore playing baseball at Seward Community College in Liberal, Kansas. Bella, 17, is a senior at Paschal and will graduate next spring.

The Fort Clothing Co. was founded in 2013 by local Fort Worth student Gracie Chambers. After she went away to college, the foursome bought the company from her in 2015 with the goal of continuing her work.

Since taking over the company, they have introduced dozens of new styles and accessories while remaining committed to showcasing Fort Worth.

“After we began to bring in new designs and retailers, The Fort began to grow a lot faster than we anticipated,” Cruz said. “We have added three retailers around Fort Worth since taking over the company in an effort to get our name out there and drive our online sales.”

After they took over, gross sales for the company doubled, and they are looking at continual growth again this year. They also hope to reach more people outside Fort Worth.

“Whether you are from Fort Worth or not, we want as many people to know about how great Fort Worth is,” Cruz said.

The Fort products are in seven retailers across the Fort Worth area — CD Ski & Sports, Climate, The Squire Shop, Lawrence’s, Three, It’s Swice, and Sewell Infiniti. They are also working to grow their online presence, and sales have been strong this year.

“Our online store sees a significant increase in sales during the holiday season and later parts of the year,” Bella said. “Our best-selling products are our short-sleeve shirts, specifically our Fort Script tee as well as our Fort Collection series. We have seen that people tend to like shirts with a simple design that represents their hometown in a color scheme they like.”

The T-shirts, using Comfort Colors brand shirts as a basis, start at about $30 with a variety of designs, including some that highlight TCU and one that touts Fort Worth’s Panther City nickname.

Both of their families have a business history, and the students have been around the business world for many years. Ken Schaefer, father of Sam and Campbell, owns Schaefer Advertising in Fort Worth. Jared Shope, father of Cruz and Bella, owns CD Ski & Sports and Climate.

“Business is something I am passionate about, and I love the fact that every day varies and offers new challenges and opportunities,” Sam said.

The four owners are the only full-time employees of The Fort Clothing. They have divided the work within the company to allow each one to focus on certain areas.

“Occasionally when at trunk shows or other sales, we will hire other people to help us manage the events, but the vast majority of the work is done by the four of us,” Cruz said.

The team has begun developing its long-sleeve line for the fall. It is also looking into expanding to possibly produce hoodies and sweatshirts.

“Additionally, we recently paired with Joe T. Garcia’s and produced shirts for them, and are looking for more partnerships within the Fort Worth community,” Bella said.

All four plan future careers in business in some form. But they are hoping to continue to grow The Fort and have big plans for the brand in the future.

“It has been great having the opportunity to work alongside my brother and best friends,” Sam said. “And we definitely could see ourselves pursuing other entrepreneurial endeavors together in the future.”

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