Georgia Tech, Scheller College of Business
Website Link: www.forenaire.com (Website is currently closed to prepare for next release, EOY 2022)
Industry: Clothing, Apparel, Fashion
Founding Student Name(s): Aboubacar Barrie
Brief Description of Solution: My company, Forenaire, offers high-end clothing while specializing in professional and modest sportswear. We do this to provide our target audience with appropriate, beneficial clothing that represents them well and does not go against their beliefs.
What led you to launch this venture? Growing up in historically black neighbourhoods in the United States, I was raised into streetwear culture. Oftentimes, this type of clothing was negatively portrayed in the media. I initially started the brand wanting to offer premium professional clothing products for young individuals within my community to change the “gangster” stereotype given to us in the media. However, when I came to college, I realized I could expand my brand to tackle another issue: modest sportswear for Muslim athletes, a category I fit in. The market currently does not offer a variety of sportswear clothing for Muslim demographics that wouldn’t go against their religious beliefs. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. My company tries to combat both of these issues by providing our target audience with appropriate, beneficial clothing that they are comfortable with.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? My biggest accomplishment so far with this venture is the recognition and traction I see the brand getting. In the last year, I was awarded $20,000 from GUCCI, a major fashion company; my brand was offered a $250,000 valuation from the Georgia Tech Create-X program; and it was featured on several media outlets including magazines and on Scheller’s website in February, 2022.
How has your business-related major helped you further this startup venture? Even though I started this company as a freshman in high school before coming to Georgia Tech, I never really took my brand seriously. It was always a side-hustle for me. When I started taking business courses at Scheller, my mindset shifted to a much more managerial role. My accounting courses helped me organize myself financially, determine how to allocate resources, and how to budget properly. My marketing courses taught me how to strategically hone in on targeting my audience. Lastly, my statistics classes taught me how to be more analytical and my engineering minor through the Denning Technology and Management Program taught me how to think more like a product owner.
Which business class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? This is very difficult to narrow down to just one answer. I have loved my business classes here so far because they have all taught me something useful. If I had to narrow it down, I will pick Product Development and Strategic Brand Management.
What business professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Relating back to the previous question, I really appreciated the Product Development class taught by Dr. Karthik Ramachandran. This class taught me a lot on how to properly develop a product and how to strategically implement it in real life through prototyping. Outside of the class, I appreciated how Dr. Ramachandran was always willing to listen to my business ideas and provide guidance along the way.
Another professor I truly value is Professor Aaron Hackett who teaches the Strategic Brand Management class. I met Professor Hackett through Georgia Tech’s start-up accelerator program, Create-X, where he helped me clarify the value of my new sportswear brand segment for FORENAIRE. He also taught me how it may not be a great idea to target everyone as your audience. Rather, it would be more impactful to closely target 20% of individuals (your main audience) who will eventually drive 80% of your sales. This stems from his 80/20 rule. I am implementing both teachings within my own business and it is safe to say, things are working out better than last time.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? While this may sound unconventional, the person who inspired me most to start my entrepreneurial journey was my father. When my family and I immigrated to the United States in 2007, my father mainly provided for us by selling blank white-tees and socks throughout the streets of New York. He had no formal education, but he understood the basics of business: “Buy at a cheap price and sell volume while making a profit.” It was that struggle that was able to give us a better life like we have today. Another individual who inspires me is Mr. Ratan Tata, a big time business-man in India. He created a mega-company consisting of several brands that held his name. What’s so moving about him is that despite all of his successes and accomplishments, he is still a very humble and down to earth person. That is what I aspire to be like!
What is your long-term goal with your startup? My long-term goal with FORENAIRE is to grow it into a multi-billion-dollar company; attract talented people who share the same vision as me to join my team; continue offering professional attire and modest sportswear for my communities; perform several community service events to give back; open brick and mortar stores all around the world to provide opportunities for others to make a difference; and eventually change my family’s future. I think this brand can get me there!
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.