KELLY VAUGHAN ‘17
College students lead extremely busy lives, often without the opportunity to rest during the day. Finding casual yet attractive apparel can be difficult, especially when one may need to transition from the gym to class to the library without any time to change outfits. In an exclusive interview with the Tripod, Pierson Krass, Lehigh University Class of 2013, discussed how he recognized the difficulty of being able to “look good but still be comfortable in class.” Using his background in marketing and entrepreneurship, Krass founded Krass and Co, a high end athletic wear company, during his freshman year at Lehigh.
Offering an overwhelming number of both printed and embroidered shorts for men and women in a variety of preppy patterns, Krass and Co. has brightened up stereotypical college clothing. Wearing a daily uniform of athletic shorts and a polo or button down shirt everyday to class, Krass “started to wonder why there weren’t any “classy” athletic shorts. That way [he] could look good but still be comfortable in class.” A former lacrosse player, Krass said that “when we first started, we made men’s athletic shorts and targeted lacrosse players, so we were essentially making preppy lacrosse shorts. As we grew, we realized that there were a lot of kids that didn’t play lacrosse that liked our shorts.” Krass realized the potential business in the women’s market, so he started designing shorts for female customers, “we went from a men’s lacrosse company to 80 percent of our sales coming from our women’s line.”
Krass is very aware of what high school and college students are looking for in their apparel. The current designs on shorts often feature summer inspired graphics like seahorses, anchors, palm trees, flamingos, and sailboats. Krass’ personal favorite is “the original Classic Lobster Shorts in navy because they started it at all.” Krass and Co. draws their customers in not only by attractive apparel, but also by their catchy captions. For example, the description of the Women’s Sailor Delight shorts – which I own and are undeniably comfortable – reads “Picture the perfect preppy day. Chances are it involves basking in the rays and sipping on your favorite drink while the boys are raising the sails. While we can’t put you back on the boat, we can help you exude the good times with a pair of our best-selling shorts.” This type of imagery truly defines both the Krass and Co. brand, and their customer.
Aside from vibrant hues and preppy patterns, Krass and Co. also features both college and greek lines, including Trinity’s own Pi Kappa Alpha and Kappa Kappa Gamma. Furthermore, he recognizes that many students take inspiration from fashion bloggers and style icons, so Krass and Co. has also teamed up with a number of preppy style icons including The College Prepster and Mackenzie Horan. These collaborations have been extremely successful in broadening Krass and Co’s customer base, as well as in promoting new designs.
Since Krass and Co. found its roots at college and effectively targets a student audience predominantly, they feature an extensive Brand Representative program, in which high school and college students can work alongside Krass to promote the brand across campuses. Besides receiving generous discounts on products, Brand Reps are able to gain experience in marketing, sales, and design. Most recently, Krass and Co. offered Brand Reps an opportunity to create and vote on a custom pair of shorts exclusively for Reps. The company also engages with its entire customer base through social media, such as by starting a campaign called “Best in Krass” in which buyers can take photos modeling their shorts and share the images using the hashtag #bestinkrass. This allows shoppers to see what the shorts look like on another individual while maintaining the sunny spirit of the brand.
When asked what advice Krass would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, he says “Just go for it! A lot of people get hung up on meticulously planning things and writing business plans. If you have an idea, the best way to see if it’s going to work is just go out and try it. You can’t be scared to fail or overthink things or you’ll never get anywhere.” Krass said that reflecting back, there are many aspects of starting his business that he would have changed, however, “you fail at things, learn from your mistakes, and then correct them.”
Over the next year, Krass and Co. plans to expand their line – Krass said that customers can expect to see “pants (sweats and yoga), more top options, outerwear, accessories, and more. We really want to transition from being a “shorts company” to a full lifestyle brand.” Furthermore, they are planning to expand their distribution to over 500 locations. Krass and Co. has created products that will fit nearly any setting, ranging from the beach or to campus. The vibrant hues, classic and cheerful designs, and luxuriously comfortable fabrics are coveted across campuses nationwide. Visit krassandco.com for a full listing of styles and more information on the Brand Rep program.