Providing Penn State students elevated outfits with upcycled game day clothes to staying on the latest trends, senior advertising major Haley Konkol and best friend, senior broadcast journalism major Brianna Slattery, launched their clothing company — BRIcreateit.
After meeting through mutual friends freshmen year the duo has taken their college life by storm from joining the service organization Epsilon Sigma Alpha, rooming with one another and studying abroad it led them to the ultimate dream of creating a business together. Talk about friendship goals!
Gaining popularity via Instagram, the duo behind BRIcreateit was able to expand their business in State College to places beyond the border of the small college town scene. Launching the company with its first Instagram post in early 2019—the duo has over 1,200 followers—reaching a wider audience and gaining a follower with each post.
Konkol and Slattery give us insight into the challenges they face and give us the inside scoop on all things BRIcreateit.
VALLEY: What inspired you both to start a clothing brand?
Haley Konkol: I have always been a “creative individual.” Even when I was younger, I would pick out my own outfits and have fun with mix-matching pieces together. As I got older, that same interest in fun clothing stayed but evolved into a more serious hobby. When I got to college and met Bri, she and I would make different things for ourselves, and then wear them to football games and whatnot. When we would wear these items, we would get so many compliments. So, one day I came up with the idea of starting our own clothing brand on Instagram as something silly — to do for fun. It ended up growing extremely fast, and now watching the page continue to grow keeps me motivated to grow it as big as it can.
Brianna Slattery: Ever since I was little I’ve always been a Fashionista. Friends would always ask me for outfit advice and I loved coming up with cute ideas. But like Haley said we always got compliments or got asked “can I borrow that” whether it was gameday clothes, going out or even just casual clothes when walking to class. At first, we took it lightly but eventually, we came up with the idea to make things and recreate clothes for others, so they can get the same compliments we once got.
V: How did you guys come to name the brand?
HK: The same day I told Bri about starting an Instagram, we started to think of names. We knew our mission of the brand was to take second-hand clothing and “re-create” the item in some way. I came up with the name “BRIcreateit” as a play on words, and we kind of just rolled with it.
BS: It took about a week to come up with the name. We thought of so many before deciding on BRIcreateit. But props to Haley for thinking of it, I think it’s the advertising major in her!
V: In comparison to other “tailgate” or “college apparel” brands, how does BRIcreateit stand out from others?
HK: I think the biggest thing for us is our mission. Like I said, we take clothing that someone may not think has a use to it anymore and make it into something that can be worn over and over again. Also, making clothes second hand this way means that each piece is unique. Unlike other brands that make bulk clothing and sell them wholesale, BRIcreateit is one of a kind and unique, all while being sustainable at the same time.
BS: We utilize old clothing pieces and add our own twist to them. I think not many tailgate companies can say they are as authentic as we are. It’s also cool to think we’re doing something to help the earth by using recycled clothes.
V: Describe the process of making some of your pieces?
HK: For me, my favorite is the sewing! I love walking through the thrift stores and piecing together different items that I think would look fun together. When I am making something (such as a hoodie with flannel sleeves) I start by picking two pieces that would look good together. Then I cut the sleeves off of both. I then pin one sleeve at a time. This part is tricky because the hoodie goes inside-out while the new sleeve stays normal. I always have to remind myself that. I then sew the sleeve on and repeat on the other side. And then it’s a brand-new amazing piece! And the best part is that you get to keep the old sleeves and rest of the flannel for more pieces in the future!
BS: I have definitely loved painting or adding prints to an item to spice it up more. To do that we pick out a font style stencil prime and then paint. It’s kind of a rigorous process but for such a cute result. The print ons are also so cool to do and we got a Cricut machine that has made our life so much easier!
V: You both make so many pieces, is there one in particular that you like the most?
HK: My all-time favorite piece was from one of the giveaways we did. It was a pastel tie-dye hoodie with BRIcreateit on the front. This is my favorite because it was amazing to me to see how many other people loved an item with our brand advertised on it and wanted to win it. It really made me confident and excited for the brand.
BS: I would say my favorite items would be the cropped and cinched items we have made. It’s awesome how we can recycle the clothes we found thrifting and make them into something fun that people want to wear. I do also love our BRIcreateit hoodie, it was awesome to see the support and love that people wanted to have it.
V: What would you say is the best part of running a clothing company?
HK: The best part for me is doing something with my best friend. We have so much fun together, that I swear it never feels like we are at work. We laugh 99% of the time we are making our clothes. No matter where the company goes in the future, I will always look back at it as one of the best decisions I have ever made.
BS: I would have to agree with Haley. I think we took a random idea and just ran with it. We are both easy going and spontaneous people and that’s something I’d look for in a business partner.
V: As students, what is it like running a business and balancing schoolwork?
HK: There is no denying it’s hard to balance owning a small business, taking a full load of courses, and being members of other academic clubs on campus. However, I think for me personally, BRIcreateit is something that I genuinely enjoy and love taking time to do. So for me, the work doesn’t really feel like work. It honestly is something I would take up full time if the opportunity presented itself. Also, when it does get a bit overwhelming, all of our customers are fantastic and understand that we are just two college students who are trying to balance it all out!
BS: It was definitely more challenging balancing school and owning a business once we opened up custom orders. Like Haley said we love what we do so it’s not like we are working. As the saying goes choose a job you and you’ll never work a day in your life.
V: With an ongoing pandemic and lack of sporting events, how have you guys reacted to it as a business? Have you had to adapt?
HK: Corona, like it did with almost all small businesses, forced us to make some changes in the company. Before, we would be thrift shopping almost every week trying to find new items. Then suddenly they all closed for about two months. When this happened, we turned to the popular tie-dye trend. We were only able to purchase online, so we would order bulk hoodies and create them at home. It sadly took away the “second hand” mission from the company, but we were still able to keep each item unique with the tie-dye. Now that things are slowing going back to normal, we are back to thrifting as much as we can.
BS: It was a struggle at first but we were able to have our tie-dye items available to be purchased by more than one person because we could recreate the same thing, rather than when we thrift our items because it’s rare that we have more than one of the same thing.
V: Since you guys are seniors and time in State College is ending, what does the future look like for BRIcreateit post college life?
HK: With both of us being different majors and having different end goals, it’s unclear to say what exactly will happen to the company when we graduate. Obviously, we are going to continue to grow BRIcreateit as much as we can and it would be a dream if it grew into something that could exist post-college. But for now, we take it day by day!
BS: It would be so cool to make BRIcreateit something bigger than what it is now, but from where we started I think we both had no idea it would even be this big. We have even shipped internationally. We will take it day by day and see what we can make of it!
V: Lastly, what has been the response from friends, family, and the Penn State community?
HK: Nothing but positive for me. Everyone around me supports and only wishes the best for BRIcreateit. My dad makes me show him every item I make before sending it out, and still somehow has a new compliment to say. He is definitely my biggest supporter and wants nothing but success for the company.
BS: I think our friends loved it more than anything because they could actually wear something of our style and they love showing it off to new people and generating us new customers. We are so thankful for everyone that supports BRIcreateit, it’s awesome to see our tagged pictures or seeing someone rock our clothes at a tailgate. We take pride in what we do, just as much as the pride people have while wearing our clothes.
Be sure to check out @bricreateit on Instagram!