Two long-time friends have grown the athletic jersey business they started as seniors to sell to classmates at Lake Forest High School into an online prep clothing line with clients across the country.
The turtle logo Seam Street Prep line, started in 2013 by Adam LaVitola of Lake Forest and Sean McCauley of Lake Bluff, both 19, even boasts a conservation component: 10 percent of their profits are donated to the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation.
Before heading off to college last fall — Illinois Wesleyan for LaVitola and Indiana University for McCauley — the two opened their online business selling classic pro athletic wear, like Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, Gale Sayers’ Chicago Bears and Starlin Castro’s Chicago Cubs jerseys.
“A lot of people are into vintage sports jerseys and needed a place to find them,” LaVitola said, explaining how he and McCauley got into the business of selling athletic jerseys.
One thing led to another, and the two friends, who both enrolled in conservation classes in high school, came up with an affordable prep clothing summer line with pocket tees, polos and hats featuring their signature turtle logo. LaVitola designed the stylized turtle logo and several “Ride the Wave” tees and Seam Street Prep accessories.
Last August, they hired friends who attend different universities across the country as ambassadors for their products.
“We thought this would be a good way to help the company spread quicker,” LaVitola said.
Seam Street has about 12 campus reps now and LaVitola and McCauley are looking for more reps at big campuses they don’t cover.
The web has also helped spread the word about their products.
“Our sales are pretty spread out across country right now,” McCauley said. “Through Instagram, a lot of people have found us and seen our stuff.”
Back at home this summer, the business partners have entered the local retail market. Their signature items are available at Peg Ann Kompany, 79 E. Scranton Ave. in Lake Bluff, and at the Highwood Evening Markets, held from 4 to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays through August at Everts Park, 102 Highwood Ave. in Highwood. Look for the ceramic sea turtle on their display table.
This fall, they hope to offer button-down shirts, vests and different hat styles and to boost their orders with college fraternities across the country.
“We hope it keeps growing into something bigger and we’ll need to hire different people to work with us and manage it,” LaVitola said.
But for now, they’re taking it step-by-step.
“These past few months, it’s growing faster than we expected,” LaVitola said. ”We didn’t expect to be a company shipping nationally.”
“Obviously, our college education and grades come first,” McCauley added. “But this is a great resume-builder. I hope it turns into something more than that.”
McCauley is majoring in sports marketing management and minoring in business, while LaVitola is studying business and computer science.