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Antoine started The Cause in 2017. They detail the beginnings of their company in their Starter Story interview: 
Q: How did you get started on The Cause?
I went to Saint John’s University in Minnesota for football. My major was pre-med and I was a full time athlete all 4 years.
I struggled in school with this major, but I chose pre-med because that’s what my mom wanted me to do. Even though my scholarship through football covered most of my costs I didn’t have the funds to meet some of my needs like being able to fly myself home for Christmas break or seeing my family.
> Within the first week I sold socks 512 socks. I was hyped. At the time, I was a sophomore in college and I made my first $5,000 which to me was a lot! You couldn’t tell me nothing.
My mother was a single parent who did her best to give me anything I needed but circumstances of our finances made it hard for her to do so. This is when I started to come up with ways to make money because asking my mom for it wasn’t an option.
Making money through clothes has always been the idea but designing and printing was not how it started. I started by washing the clothes of my peers in college. I didn’t have time for a real job with school and my football schedule so coming up with something I could do whenever and that was located on campus was ideal for me. It was easy, no one in college feels like doing their laundry. Honestly I’m not sure who actually enjoys doing laundry so I started to wash the clothes of my classmates and would charge extra if they wanted the clothes folded. After a while washing clothes became something I hated. I got tired of washing other people's dirty draws and more. I stopped to strategize about what to do next.
My first business success
My thoughts went like this: I wanted to sell clothes. I wanted to make something that wasn’t already sold at our campus store, and would be cost efficient for me. That’s when I came up with socks. Everyone needs socks and wears socks.
I found a guy who manufactured socks who sent me a sample with our design, “Johnnies” (self proclaimed nickname) was the obvious choice for the first sock design. From there I went dorm to dorm knocking on people’s doors to ask if they would like to buy a school sock. I honestly didn’t think I would do that well. Why would people buy socks from me when they could easily get it from a name brand? But I tried anyways.
Within the first week I sold socks 512 socks. I was hyped. At the time, I was a sophomore in college and I made my first $5,000 which to me was a lot! You couldn’t tell me nothing.
After making this happen, I thought about what it was like to struggle growing up and even at that moment in life I was struggling. My mom was struggling. My family was struggling but we always found a way through. My life wasn’t easy but I realized there were others who had it way worse.
There were others who didn’t always find a way through like we did. Coming from situations where I understood struggle I wanted to find a way through my work to help those in similar situations. That’s when I decided I wanted to give back some of the money I made but I knew I couldn’t do it alone so I presented this idea to some of my friends.
Through them I formed a team and we became The Cause International. They helped me plan and figure out what needed to be done to giveback. Out of the first $5,000 I made from socks we traveled to the South Side of Chicago (where our company President is from) and used $3,000 of it to retrofit a Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
Picture: The Cause International Team at The Boy’s & Girl’s Club South Side Chicago
I met a little girl there who hugged me and said “Thank you for giving me my first Christmas”. The feeling of helping those around you is unexplainable and the greatest reward you could receive. I knew what I wanted to do. I’m going to create an apparel brand that uses a percentage of its profits to give back. After that, I never doubted what I wanted to do again.
Contributors to this article:
- Pat Walls, Founder of Starter Story
- Wiki Updater