The name Penn State carries a legacy that is known around the world. It is recognized by its colors, its symbols and of course the massive amount of school spirit that is carried on by its students and alumni.
What people outside of the Penn State community might not be aware of, however, is that the town of State College isn’t just the area surrounding the university. It is a town full of life and energy and for four years it is where Penn State students call home.
Penn State senior Brandon McGowan and alum Jesse Cox seized an opportunity to bring more attention to the area and the several small businesses that reside thereby launching a clothing line named after the State College area code, 814 shirt.
“On a normal football weekend, you would see thousands of people out tailgating and all wearing blue and white in some way and a lot of times it does revolve around Penn State,” says Cox. However, he adds, “a lot of the people in the area spend the majority of their time in State College so we thought State College needed more of a recognizable symbol.”
The childhood best friends began tossing the idea around in their junior year at Penn State and finally in January of 2020 made the decision to create their brand.
814 Shirt launched in October of 2020 and the pair did everything themselves from coming up with the designs to working with printers that would bring it to life and then sending it out to customers. They faced obstacles such as being in different locations at the start of their business in addition to COVID-19 restrictions which shut down tailgates and football celebrations.
Despite these challenges, 814 Shirt has managed to partner with Doggies Pub in downtown State College. While the pub is frequented by many Penn State students, some may be unaware that the pub also has its own pizza shop which 814 Shirt has been helping to promote.
“We want to keep getting partners and keep working with other businesses to promote them while also promoting our brand,” says Cox.
Cox and McGowan both have plans to move to locations outside of State College following graduation, but they believe that their partnerships with local businesses in State College and their recognizable name will help them keep their business going.
“People who went to school here or are from State College can see that number and be like ‘oh 814, I know that number,’ so that gives them a familiarity with it no matter where they are at,” says McGowan. “I hope one day I could be in an airport and I see someone with an 814 shirt on.”