Third-year business administration major Jemiel Lowery, was an All-American sprinter for the Titans track team last spring and is now taking on his biggest challenge yet — starting his own business.
Lowery is the vice president and co-founder of Collegiate Design, an apparel company he hopes will do more than just turn a profit.
“The ultimate goal for the company is to give back to college students. We want to make enough money to the point where we can give back scholarships and provide jobs for students,” Lowery said.
Because Lowery is now committing himself to running Collegiate Design, he has chosen to give up his second passion, track and field.
“I just want to pursue this and put my heart and soul into it. I basically gave up running track to start this company,” he said. “It was incredibly hard to give it up because track is the one thing that I love to do. It was my one love, other than art.” Lowery ends his track career as one of the most decorated sprinters in school history.
He was the 2013 Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges champion in the 100-meter dash and finished third in the 200-meter dash.
Lowery also ran legs for the Titans’ 100-meter and 400-meter relay teams, helping both teams place second at the NWAACC championships.
Titans track and field head coach Grady O’Connor said Lowery holds the third-fastest 100-meter time in Lane’s history.
“The last two years he was definitely a team captain, somebody that the athletes looked up to. He led by example,” O’Connor said. “As an athlete, he was one of the best sprinters we’ve had here at Lane.”
Although Lowery likely could have continued running at a four-year university, O’Connor is glad to see him continuing his education at Lane.
“I’m very excited for him because he’s found passion for school and his business,” O’Connor said. “The fact that he doesn’t have eligibility left for us but he’s still pursuing his academic goals is really important to (the Titans coaching staff).” With his track career behind him, Lowery is now focused solely on school and building his company.
He realizes that his time at Lane can provide him with much more than just a transfer degree and a handful of track medals.
“A lot of people go to school just to get a degree. I don’t even need a degree for Collegiate Design,” Lowery said. “I’m still going to school because I want to actually learn how to run a business.”
Lowery founded the company in March 2006 along with President Daniel Taniguchi, who also serves as chief executive officer, and Chief Financial Officer Sam Scheifly.
Lowery said they hatched the company when the three were gathered in Taniguchi’s Skybox apartment last fall and found themselves complaining about how difficult it is for students to afford clothing.
“Students have other things to worry about, like books and tuition. They shouldn’t have to worry about affordable clothing. So we were just like, ‘OK, let’s come up with a clothing company for college students,’” Lowery said.
Taniguchi said they are striving to find innovative ways to marketCollegiate Design.
“Our biggest difference (from other companies) is that we focus heavily on the students that we help instead of focusing on the products that we’re selling,” Taniguchi said. “We want to constantly display how our company is affecting students in Eugene and, in the future, the entire nation.”
Personally delivering clothing directly to the doors of students who order online is just one idea that Lowery believes will help Collegiate Design create a personal connection with students.
“We believe in applying a social aspect to a clothing company. A lot of companies create designs and they think they know what everybody wants,” Lowery said. “We want to actually talk to college students and ask them what they like.”