The two IU students behind the locally run Yaz Apparel never would have met if not for the Spanish language. The pair met in fall 2014, in HISP-S 150 Elementary Spanish II , and as they sat there from Monday to Thursday, they developed a friendship and a business partnership.
Senior Joshua “Yaz” Yazdian came up with the idea of a clothing company when he was a sophomore living in McNutt Quad. Yazdian, as he’s known, is an apparel merchandising and fashion design major and said he always had an interest in design and clothing.
Yazdian said he he decided to share his idea with then sophomore and now senior Dong Seob Kim because he showed promise.
“I was struggling, so I asked for help,” Yazdian said. “I saw that he was dedicated in his work and that he wanted to pursue something big so we became friends,” Yazdian said.
With that, Yaz Apparel began operations designing and selling casual clothing in February 2015. In two years, the pair have managed to integrate their brand into the greek community, music and philanthropy scenes.
Yazdian is a member of the Alpa Epsilon Pi fraternity and credits the chapter for Yaz Apparel’s connection to the greek community. As the designer of all merchandise, Yazdian said the idea to target greeks was probably the best thing he has thought of so far.
“One day this summer, I got really bored and I started designing stuff for AEPi and sending it to the apparel chair,” Yazdian said. “They said we can make those 5-10 orders, not many, it was just a start. Then I started looking at sororities and then I started talking to their apparel chairs.”
Now Yaz Apparel makes clothing for 16 greek houses. He said some of the bigger philanthropy events can demand as many as 700-1,000 units of clothing.
In addition, Yazdian said they now make clothing for date parties, philanthropies, parents weekends, recruitment, retreats and all types of greek events.
This helped them sell over 360 designs from 2016 to now.
Co-founders Kim and Yazdian are quick to mention that, despite their financial and social successes, their purpose is philanthropic at heart. Kim said they share their success with the homeless communities in Bloomington and Los Angeles.
“We’ve been to LA dozens of times,” Kim said. “We have donated ten thousand articles of clothing to Skid Row.”
Kim said he and Yazdian help the homeless community because he and are blessed and realize many people are not as fortunate.
“For every shirt we sell we donate to the homeless,” Kim said.
The two students said they keep an open mind about who wears their clothing and how they expand their brand. That is why Kim said he and Yazdian took the opportunity to make shirts with their logo on it for a music festival in Barcelona, Spain, last spring. The opportunity came from their friend in the Sigma Delta Tau sorority who was working for a company in Spain that specialized in club promotions.
Yazdian said they have also participated in two music festivals in Dallas.
Chris Brown and the Chainsmokers are two of many musicians Kim said they have met while taking part in festivals and expanding their brand.
“It’s a really cool feeling,” Yazdian said. “It’s an amazing feeling seeing over two thousand people wearing your clothes.”
Kim has two more semesters of school left, and Yazdian will graduate in May. Both men said they were grateful for their opportunity to pursue their dreams and said they have always known things might have to come to an end some day.
For now, Yazdian said he wants to try showcasing his merchandise at trade shows as the year progresses. He said he would not have had the confidence or financial backing without the greek community, so he and Kim will continue to work closely with them.
“We are just doing it day by day,” Kim said.