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Finance grad turns job slump into hot t-shirt business

caines | 1/24/2013, 4:30 a.m.

Andrew Guzmans MADE Kids line: Cool, creative and inspirational

When Andrew Guzman, 26, graduated from the University of Florida in Dec. 2008, he says it wasprobably the worst time for someone with a finance degree to enter the job market. So he had to rethink his options. He decided to parlay the contacts that he had secured while working with a non-profit firm into his own business and applied his skills in marketing and advertising to launch MADE Kids a childrens clothing line. The locally-based company has seven full-time employees and is just under a year old. Guzman says business is booming. I had the motivation and idea for MADE kids and found that a lot of people liked the concept, he said. Securing investors was pretty easy because people believed in me. Plus we are different from your typical childrens clothing companies. I set out with the goal of providing a cure for the common clothes. Children want to look cool and feel good about themselves. Our clothes help them do both.

Is there profit in a t-shirt business?

Fortune 500 businesses like OshKosh and Carters illustrate the financial opportunities that exist in manufacturing clothing for children. Guzmans target group is kids only, newborn to 12 years old. If you go to a typical store to buy clothes for children they all lack creativity, he said. They may have a teddy bear or an elephant but nothing that would make a kid jump up and down. We live in a very connected world today and so children like designs that are more expressive, stylish and cool. They want to look as sharp as their parents. For the most part our shirts have inspirational phrases and have a special message and design that weve created. Sometimes its hand-drawn shirt graphics other times its imaginative poetry. Our goal is to help children recognize how powerful they can become and how they can accomplish the unimaginable. MADE Kids also works with children from the community. The company has formed a relationship with Miamis Boys and Girls Club and has donated hundreds of shirts to the Clubs children and served as a sponsor for local events, including the recent book signing and conversation with civil rights icon Ruby Bridges. Ten percent of their annual gross revenue goes to charitable organizations. I didnt start the company looking to get rich, he said. I wanted to fill a void in the market. People like me in their 20s are into hip hop and street culture and we like our clothes to say something. Kids want the same thing. As far I know we are the only business in the U.S. that is creating street wear for children. Business is going well. For more information or to see their clothing line, go to www.madekids.com. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com