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Thursday, May 02, 2013 - Childhood Dream Inspires New Business Venture

As a kid growing up in Detroit, Jamaine Reece spent a lot of money on sneakers. His passion for fashion combined with an artistic flair inspired him to creatively express his individuality as he built his wardrobe around his extensive collection of coveted footwear.

Now, all grown up and working in the office of information technology at Walsh College, Reece, a Waterford Township resident, recently discovered a new opportunity allowing him to build on his childhood obsession and launch his own business – FLYA THAN AVERAGE - a clothing line consisting mainly of T-shirts and hoodies marketed for individuals who share his passion for sneakers.

“While working at Walsh, I realized the Blackstone LaunchPad program was available to employees,” said Reece. Blackstone LaunchPad provides new venture assessment, mentoring, and networking services to the campus community to encourage entrepreneurship as a viable career path, help individuals start new companies and take untested ideas to market.

The business school’s programs began in September 2010 with grant from the Blackstone Charitable Foundation.

“I was going in blind and trying to find information on my own,” said the 30-year-old entrepreneur. “LaunchPad guided me through the process necessary to build a solid business plan, helped me with branding information and logos, instructed me on how my website should be and showed me the steps necessary to obtain my business license.”

“If a sneaker comes out, like a LeBron James, or Michael Jordan sneaker, we have a clothing item that would coordinate with those sneakers. It’s aimed towards individuals who purchase sneakers and want clothing items to match,” said Reece who explained that although his shirts are designed to go along with the sneakers, his merchandise doesn’t carry shoe manufacturer logos and he’s extremely careful not to infringe on logo rights. “A lot of times the community names the shoe, not the company,” said Reece. In those instances, he feels free to carry names on his clothing.

Launched in September, FLYA THAN AVERAGE is preparing for its first spring and summer - the traditionally heavy sneaker-purchasing season. While most of Reece’s orders have been from friends and family members, he has also filled orders from Orlando, California and New York. Actively spreading word of his new venture on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Reece is talking with retailers and hopes to eventually sell his items in stores.

Reece’s early success has inspired him beyond his own expectations. This fall, he will begin working on his bachelor’s degree at the college responsible for helping him launch his venture.

“I tell others to go for it and reach for their dreams,” said Reece. “ No matter what it is, at least try or you will never know what may happen.”

Walsh College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (www.ncahlc.org; phone: 312-263-0456). Specific degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP, www.acbsp.org).

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