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Commentary: Why are investors looking at supply chain technologies in 2020? – FreightWaves

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Commentary: Why are investors looking at supply chain technologies in 2020? - FreightWaves

The views expressed here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of FreightWaves or its affiliates.  

Since the coronavirus pandemic took hold earlier in 2020, supply chain has become a household word. Investors, like the public, have woken up to the fact that supply chains are the engine driving economic prosperity.

Almost perversely, supply chain is also the final frontier of tech-based efficiency optimization. Insiders joke (quite fairly, as it turns out) about billion-dollar procurement-management-disposition cycles that are managed in spreadsheets. Some larger organizations try to use ERP systems, which are often ill-suited to supply chain workflows, while a fortunate few enterprises host game-changing custom control tower systems. Supply chain, it seems, is ripe for disruption.

But investors, however keen they are to jump on an opportunity, know a rabbit hole when they see one. To provide some help with navigating the complexities of supply chain investing, I spoke with three tech experts with different perspectives: Dave Anderson of Supply Chain Ventures, the godfather of supply chain investing; Brian Aoaeh of REFASHIOND Ventures, the next-gen supply chain specialist; and Ryan Floyd of Sandhill Road’s Storm Ventures, the supply chain investment skeptic.

A truck backed up to a dock, ready to be unloaded...
(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)
A truck backed up to a dock, ready to be unloaded…
(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Why supply chain – and why now

Anderson, who easily has the most extensive background in supply chain and supply chain investments, takes the recent uptick in buzz about supply chain in stride. “Everyone’s figured out that supply chains are important, given COVID-19. They may not know much about what they are, but they’ve understood that we’re about seven days away from starvation without them,” he observed.

He describes supply chain investment as being “white hot” in the past five years, citing valuations like Flexport, which became a unicorn with a $1 billion investment from Softbank. “Prior to that, there wasn’t as much going on, but recently at Supply Chain Ventures we’ve looked at around 300 startups a year.”

Floyd, whose firm is focused on a wider range of business-to-business/enterprise SaaS, is open to supply chain opportunities but is also more cautious. “We haven’t seen as many opportunities for investment in operations as I would like, but it’s going to be a bright area for investment going forward. You can start with things like logistics, and see how much things have changed in just the past five years. A lot of that has to do with the success of companies like Amazon putting a tremendous amount of pressure on everybody else. That’s good, because now everybody needs to up their game in terms of what their capabilities are. Think of something like handling returns, and accurately predicting delivery times. The problem with trying to do things like that before, using people, was that it was hard to scale because your costs would go up. Now, with technology, it’s a lot easier to offer an experience comparable to what Amazon is offering.”

Aoaeh finds Floyd’s skepticism understandable. He agrees that 10 years ago, it would have been difficult to do things that we see innovators doing now, because technologies weren’t as advanced.

“If you talk to some investors who have a background in supply chain,” said Aoaeh, “they will tell you a lot of horror stories about technologies that they thought would be groundbreaking many years ago but weren’t. At that time, the potential was there but the technology wasn’t mature enough. So the massive companies that had the balance sheet to invest in that sort of thing could do it, but for everyone else it wasn’t realistic. If you invested in technology at that time, you probably lost your shirt, but that has all changed with cloud computing, edge computing, mobile devices, etc.”

Floyd also noted that the prospects for software investments as a whole have improved. “I remember a time when investors pooh-poohed software entirely, because of the IBM/Microsoft history, and people didn’t see the ability to make money on applications at scale. It’s amazing to see how that has completely changed. No one ever asks about the hardware anymore.”

A freight brokerage floor in Chattanooga (before COVID-19).
A freight brokerage floor in Chattanooga (before COVID-19).
(Photo: Lexi Alvidrez/FreightWaves)

Potential impact

For organizations, the benefit of choosing the right technology lies in tapping into cost-saving efficiencies.

“Costs related to supply chain will account for 30% to 80% of sales,” explained Aoaeh. “Restaurants are at the low end at around 30%, and energy is at the high end at 79%. Therefore, any innovations that can help you get around these costs will be really, really big.”

He continued, “For any company that wants to improve its profit margins, there are two strategies they can take: a marketing-driven approach to increase demand; or a supply chain-focused approach to drive down costs. Driving down supply chain costs is always a strategy that will win. This is because your sales and marketing efforts will always run into a market that will inevitably dictate the price. On the other hand, you have more control over internal costs, so that becomes easier to tune.”

There’s another problem with spending money to increase demand, Aoaeh said. “Ultimately, you’re going to have to invest in capital expenditures to satisfy that additional demand. You’re going to need to buy more machinery, etc., and so you have costs going up.”

So if tuning the supply chain can yield such ROI, why hasn’t this already been happening? It has, but Anderson explained that the current tools aren’t up to the task yet. “The reason that a lot of supply chains get into trouble is that they rely on old data think three-month old data in SAP, Oracle or I2/Manugistics [now both JDA/Blue Yonder] that’s used to plan and execute supply chain decision-making.”

The clock is ticking on the status quo, however, especially now that COVID-19 has shown the consequences of a lack of resiliency.

“It can’t be that way in the future,” Anderson said. “We now have all kinds of real-time data on traffic, weather, product reviews, comments on Twitter, shipment visibility data, declared data from loyalty programs, etc. There’s a huge amount of information that, frankly, all of the legacy supply chain decision-making systems can’t use. That’s why we’re investing in artificial intelligence [AI] and machine learning [ML] tools that sit on top of these legacy systems and feed back into the legacy systems via an API. No one’s saying we’re going to replace them any time soon, so the CFO can continue to get his financial and inventory data, but we can better manage execution decisions in transportation or a planning decision around inventory positioning using AI/ML and real-time data.”

Beyond the potential wins for organizations, there are further horizons to watch for in terms of data. “One of the things in supply chain that I think will be really interesting,” Floyd said, “is that a lot of the data that exists in a supply chain gets tracked elsewhere. It’s just been hard to find commonality in the data to have intelligence about what’s really going on in the supply chain. A better comprehensive understanding of the data from origin to final destination can give you great insight. Leveraging data that you already have to get intelligence and insights about your supply chain is a great story, because you can do this without introducing additional friction into the system.”

Aoaeh also pointed out that, on a macro level, the potential opportunity waiting in supply chain optimization is huge. “There is nothing that we do in the world that doesn’t depend on a supply chain, and if we can increase efficiency and cut costs by even a small percentage, it can be a really, really big deal. If you think of the world as a $90 trillion GDP entity, then even a 1% efficiency is a big opportunity.”

E-commerce has increased the demand for last-mile deliveries.
E-commerce has increased the demand for last-mile deliveries.
(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Challenges in supply chain investment

Floyd says that one of the big problems with supply chain investment is that even the term itself can be unclear. “Supply chain means different things to different people in different industries, and that’s what makes investing in supply chain a bit difficult to grab hold of. It’s not like, say, Microsoft Office, which has the same functionality no matter who uses it in any industry. Another thing is that the integration on the supply chain side tends to have a lot more touch points in a lot of other systems, and often physical systems. When thinking through an investment, we need to know the cost to deploy to the customer, the cost to support the customer, and if there is upsell potential against that opportunity. Another challenge is that you have to target the companies that have large enough supply chains to really go after. You can’t build a business on serving one client.”

Aoaeh said that, for investors, the opportunities in supply chain are very difficult to realize if you don’t have a supply chain background. “Many venture capitalists have finance and consulting backgrounds and haven’t spent time in supply chain. I don’t have that dyed-in-the-wool supply chain background either, but the difference between me and some other folks is that I like to spend time digging into things, and I spent a significant portion of my professional experience prior to investments in operations, or the back office.”

Further, Anderson is wary of tools that don’t offer a full view of a supply chain decision process. “In the procurement space, what I want to be able to assess is risk management. For example, what happens to supplier networks when there are earthquakes, floods or COVIDs, and what would you do about it?”

He and his business partner Dan Dershem have been looking at procurement from several angles. For example, the environmental, social and governance (ESG) perspective seeks to ensure traceability and compliance with regulatory standards governing, for example, conflict minerals and child or slave labor in the supply chain. It’s something they’ve been looking at for a while and that he indicated has begun to take off. “A company we’ve been working with has just landed Walmart, which wants to make sure that its 40,000 suppliers are following the guidelines.”

Walmart holds its suppliers to specific sourcing standards.
Walmart holds its suppliers to specific sourcing standards.
(Photo: Walmart)

The opportunity can also depend on what area of the asset lifecycle you’re looking at, according to Floyd. “Disposition is a little trickier,” he said. “The problem when you get to areas like disposition is that the value proposition often isn’t great enough to put technology in the mix. Sometimes it is it depends on the assets you’re disposing of. If they have value, then sure, there is an opportunity there.”

Selling to enterprise in general is also getting harder, noted Floyd, because there’s so much competition right now for that enterprise mindset. “You really have to have a solution that solves a searing pain for that customer. No one’s going to deploy a supply chain technology because ‘gee whiz, that’s cool.’ But if the pitch is around, ‘we have to deploy this because it’s accurately going to predict what’s going to happen for our customers, because if we don’t they’re going to buy from another company’ that will work.”

So what makes for a winning play in supply chain?

“You have to be a solution provider, not just a product provider,” Anderson explained. “When you see products, such as blockchain or IoT, looking for solutions, that’s when you really have to be careful.”

Floyd agreed. “We don’t invest in platforms per se. They’re great, and ultimately provide a lot of value over time. But if you think about it from a customer point of view, there’s no customer that goes out searching for a platform. Customers search for solutions to their problems that’s why we’re maniacal about focusing on answering that question. If, once you’ve solved that, the answer is a platform, okay. Also, when we look at platforms, we look for something that goes beyond the application itself. You’ve got to have some kind of core infrastructure that allows you to build other products over time.”

Business entities remain divided on blockchain.
Business entities remain divided on blockchain.
(Photo: Shutterstock)

Anderson feels that it’s the details that will make the difference. “I look at a lot of this visibility stuff, and I think, ‘this is a product, but what is the real problem I am solving here?’ Do I care where that truckload of toilet paper is right now? Not really. Do I care where that multi-million dollar truckload of temperature- and shock-sensitive pharmaceutical products is? Absolutely that’s the visibility I want. For the vast majority of supply chains, all I need is an approximation of location and status.”

He continued, “You want to solve problems in supply chain that no one else is tackling. For example, we’re working with a company, True Load Times, that focuses on detention times at logistics hubs. All kinds of parameters affect these wait times, and the question about how long a shipment will be waiting in a logistics hub or port is a huge black hole that exists in supply chain right now. This is because when you’re a carrier quoting a load, you’ve got to quote the shipment now with existing information, and if you’re wrong, you can’t go back and collect for that detention time. If you’re a carrier trying to best utilize their trucks and network, that’s huge.”

COVID-19 makes lasting impact on sourcing and consumption patterns (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)
COVID-19 has made a lasting impact on sourcing and consumption patterns.
(Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

Has COVID-19 changed the investment landscape?

“Pre-COVID, the main investing spaces were virtual brokerages, e-commerce logistics, and I’ve also seen a lot of blockchain and robotics,” Anderson said. “That’s where a lot of the money had been deployed up until March 2020.

Floyd noted, “What’s been really interesting in B2B overall, is that we’ve seen a number of businesses that were doing well really accelerate.”

Anderson agreed. “Truthfully, we can’t see any major drastic changes beyond the trends that already existed. But the changes that, historically, would have taken 10+ years are now going to be accomplished in far less time. You’re going to see a lot of redesigning of businesses and supply chains as customer requirements change, with e-commerce being the poster child for all of that.”

Anderson also said that enough time has passed that the lessons we have from COVID-19 are pretty clear. “Supply chains are going to need to be more flexible and resilient in the face of unexpected change, and able to shift sourcing and distribution in days or weeks, instead of in months or years. And it’s not just COVID-19 there are disruptions going on with China, and the possibility of companies moving elsewhere in Asia or to the U.S. 

Floyd stated that the absence of major shifts is a good sign. “That bodes really well for continued investments in B2B and enterprise, whether it’s in supply chain, or newer areas like construction [which we’re looking at because there’s so much falloff for tech once you get out of the design phase], or manufacturing. We’re going to see a lot of venture investors put a lot of money there.”

Smart factory owners are turning to advanced technology like artificial intelligence and big data.
Smart factory owners are turning to advanced technology like artificial intelligence and big data.
(Image: Shutterstock)

Emerging trends

“If you look at operations right now,” Floyd said, “One of the things that’s interesting is that a lot of organizations have revenue operations people, or sales operations people, whose jobs are to make the whole system run more smoothly. And while that job may have been more physical before, now it involves things like stitching applications together and creating workflows between applications, ensuring that there are automatic triggers, making the onboarding of an employee a magical experience, and making the onboarding of a new customer delightful so they want to expand with your product.”

He continued, “The days of the ‘command and control’ CIO, who owns all the applications, are over and have been for a while. But if you talk to a lot of CIOs, they never really wanted that job anyway. They don’t want to own some deployment, because they’re not the user who really gets the value. Now you’ll find that the top-level CIOs are more often in an enablement role. They’re thinking, ‘how do I help the different business units do more with technology?’. They’re focusing on bringing data that spans these units together in a more centralized way, and often security as well. Now, you’ll see in these divisions that there are tech folks that serve almost as mini-CIOs. People have realized how much leverage you can get out of technology when you’re really investing in it.”

When Aoaeh looks to the future of supply chain technology, he sees a lot of areas that are exciting, but cautions that some are further along than others.

“What we’re looking at in the next few years comes under four broad areas next-generation logistics, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing and data and analytics,” he stated.

“We’re not going to be investing in companies that want to buy trucks, buses and ships, but we are going to be investing in startups that are creating software and possibly hardware that makes it possible to manage those assets, and manage them much more efficiently than was possible in the past.”

For Aoaeh, improving on sustainability will shape some of what is to come. “Advanced materials that allow us to divert goods that would have ended up in incinerators and landfills and turn them into new raw materials is important. Waste from plastics is a big issue for the circular economy, as is waste in fashion and apparel.”

Adam Crowder holds a 3D-printed hook that Volvo Trucks uses to open truck doors before painting.
Adam Crowder holds a 3D-printed hook that Volvo Trucks uses to open truck doors before painting.
(Photo: Alan Adler/FreightWaves)

Aoaeh pointed out that sustainability goes beyond the feel-good, to align with reducing costs for organizations. “Advanced manufacturing that enables us to create the things we need most frequently much closer to home, possibly 3D printing, will help reduce problems in a number of dimensions waste, pollution and cost. It will also change the way we think about inventory management and could save on costs if it turns out there is simply no demand for what you’ve made.”

For the long-term, Anderson is looking at radical new sourcing strategies essentially, more, not fewer, suppliers. He noted that while COVID-19 hasn’t created incredibly massive shifts, there will be some changes. “We’re seeing the death of just-in-time [JIT] as we know it because much of JIT is single-supplier. There will be more in-country manufacturing and safety stock. To answer the need for better resiliency, we’re looking for technologies that help companies to really get deeper control over multi-tier supply chains.”

Anderson is also looking really hard at centralized supply chain planning. “Today there are too many people making daily decisions in things like forecasting, execution or transportation that violate so many of the rules because they think they know better. There are already some companies that are running on a ‘lights out’ basis, meaning they run the technology and live with the solution without significant and constant changes.”

He continued, “We’re also big on warehouse and process automation in the supply chain space, focused on reducing the number of human, paper and software interactions to complete tasks. For example, the classic freight transaction has 18 steps from RFQ to final payment, and so many of them are not automated. We’re also looking at tools that enable the ability to pivot, and building more flexibility into supply chains the best guys doing local delivery operations are continuously re-optimizing throughout the day.”

Improvements in internet and security technologies will also play out in interesting ways, Anderson said. “We’re not fully sure what 5G is going to mean yet, but it’s going to allow inexpensive access to a huge amount of IoT and machine learning data. There are also new security technologies for premium consumer goods brands like Arc’teryx and Canada Goose that can be built right into the product. For these brands, solving the problems of counterfeiting will mean reclaiming huge chunks of sales 25% to 30% in a lot of cases.”

The Port of Rotterdam put an internet of things platform into operation in early 2019.
The Port of Rotterdam put an internet of things platform into operation in early 2019.
(Photo: Eric Bakker/Port of Rotterdam)

Excellent potential

For all three investors, supply chain technologies will continue to show promise; indeed, two have already used it to build successful careers.

Aoaeh and Anderson have both reported that they spend significantly more time fielding questions about supply chain from generalist investors in both venture capital and private equity firms.

Anderson advised, “If you don’t have the knowledge in the space, you have to find someone that you can bring in that understands supply chain. Maybe turn to an associate in your firm who  came out of supply chain, and has been through the wars. There are a lot of those people now who are younger and get how things like AI and ML and real-time data can improve supply chain decision-making.”

Even for Floyd, the outlook is promising. “Some people see venture capitalists as not wanting to go out on a limb, but when you look at what people invest in today versus 20 years ago it’s really pretty amazing. Who’d have thought you’d be funding supersonic jets, or self-driving freighters or rockets. If you combine that with everything that’s happening in digital, the future looks pretty bright for tech across the board.”

More about our experts

Logistics visionary Dave Anderson has been a leader in data-based supply chain optimization since the 1970s and worked as an operations and technology consultant throughout the 1990s. A former managing partner at Accenture, he was a founder of its multi-billion dollar supply chain consulting practice. Today, Anderson and business partner Dan Dershem lead Supply Chain Ventures LLC, an early-stage and late-stage venture capital fund focusing on AI/ML-enabled supply chain software. A few of their successful investments and exits include Descartes (TSX: DSG) (Nasdaq: DSGX), Llamasoft, Shipmonk, Loadsmart, SupplyAI, Transporeon, LeanLogistics (acquired by Brambles), Control Group (acquired by Google/Intersection), Kiva Systems (acquired by Amazon), SilverPop (acquired by IBM), Optiant’s Power Chain Solutions (acquired by Logility), Steelwedge (acquired by E2Open) and Macropoint (acquired by Descartes).

Dave Anderson of Supply Chain Ventures

Brian Aoaeh is a venture capitalist (currently a cofounder and general partner at REFASHIOND), educator, columnist and co-founder of the New York Supply Chain Meetup and The Worldwide Supply Chain Federation. He has been a professional investor since 2008, and spent eight of those years building an early-stage venture capital firm, KEC Ventures, from scratch. Jeff Citron, founder of KEC Ventures is known for stock trading platform Island ECN, Vonage and for Datek Online. The firm grew to $98 million in assets distributed across two funds and 51 investments, managed by a team of nine people. Today he is frequently consulted by other investors about supply chain-related initiatives as he and his co-founders build REFASHIOND.

Brian Laung Aoaeh of REFASHIOND Ventures

Ryan Floyd is Co-Founding Managing Director of Storm Ventures, an early-stage investment firm that was the first on Sandhill Road to focus on B2B/enterprise SaaS. Since its inception in 2000, Storm has grown to encompass over 175 investments in tools for marketing, engineering, security, IT, HR and targeted apps for a number of verticals. Some of Storm’s most successful exits include AireSpace and MetaCloud (both now owned by Cisco), Berkana (now owned by Qualcomm), EchoSign (now part of Adobe Acrobat), RedLock (now owned by Palo Alto Networks) and Marketo. Currently Storm is specializing in go-to-market, and is starting its sixth fund.

Ryan Storm of Storm Ventures

Entertainment

Adrienne Shelly’s widower confronts her killer in new film

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Adrienne Shelly's widower confronts her killer in new film

Andy Ostroy treasures the photographs he’s taken over the years of his daughter, Sophie. They capture the milestones in her life: first days at school, triumphs in soccer and even her attempts to ride a bicycle without training wheels.

In a heartbreaking scene from “Adrienne,” the documentarypremiering Wednesday on HBO — Ostroy directed about his late wife, actress Adrienne Shelly, he shows some of those pictures to the man who killed Sophie’s mother when the girl was just two.

“Adrienne missed a lot,” Ostroy tells Diego Pillco during an emotionally charged visit to the killer’s prison in upstate New York.

Dropping Sophie’s images onto a table in turn, he describes each one in detail. “This is her first birthday after her mom left her,” Ostroy notes.

The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page on November 3, 2006.
The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page of The Post on Nov. 3, 2006.

The next photo he puts in front of the inmate shows Sophie as a teenager, laughing as she eats a slice of cake. “Her most recent birthday — still no mom.”

It’s impossible to tell whether or not Pillco is moved by Ostroy’s commentary since the 34-year-old former construction worker is impassive throughout. Finally, while being led back to his cell, he mumbles the words “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

As Ostroy later admits in the movie: “My life will always be about grief. That will always be the ghost in the room. That love that I had at that time didn’t go anywhere. It froze. It’s like she is frozen in time.”

The documentary finds that Shelly’s personal life and career could not have been happier, busier or more promising when she was killed, at age 40, on Nov. 1, 2006.

The Queens-born actress, writer and director, who married Ostroy 12 years earlier, had starred in more than 20 films. They ranged from indie productions such as 1989’s “The Unbelievable Truth” to more mainstream movies like 2005’s “Factotum” with Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei.

Sadly, Shelly didn’t live to see the runaway success of her passion project, “Waitress” — the quirky drama that she wrote, directed and co-starred in alongside Keri Russell. The movie was released to critical acclaim a year after her murder and has since been adapted as a hit Broadway musical.

Shelly, who lived with Ostroy and Sophie in the West Village, did most of her writing away from the family home, in a nearby Abingdon Square apartment that she rented.

Pillco, then a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, was helping renovate another apartment in the building in November 2006.

Shelly with daughter Sophie, who was just a toddler when the actress was killed.
HBO

In the documentary, he tells Ostroy through a translator that he “needed money” and had been roaming the property looking for cash and other things to steal. He snuck into Shelly’s office and rifled through her purse, only to be caught red-handed by the five-foot-two-inch mom.

“The lady came out and she ran after me,” Pillco recalls on camera, sparing none of the gruesome details as Shelly’s widower listens in horror. “And when she started yelling at me, the only word that I heard her say was ‘police.’”

As Shelly went to seize her phone, he says, he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and told her not to call the cops.

Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village.
Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village. She was killed in the nearby apartment she used for an office.
The New York Post

“I lost it and I was choking her with my hand,” continues the killer, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years for his crimes. “At the same time, I was covering her mouth so that she wouldn’t make noise. I took my hand off and I let her go.”

Both Ostroy and the translator look repulsed as Pillco goes on to reveal how he knew the actress was dead: “I saw that her lips were blue so I thought: ‘Oh, I killed her.’”

Pillco explains how he dragged Shelly to the bathroom and fashioned a noose from a bedsheet — then hung her from the shower curtain rail so to make it look “like she had committed suicide.”

After a long pause, Ostroy leans forward and asks: “Did you think you’d gotten away with it?”

“Yes,” Pillco replies.

But he hadn’t. Detectives first claimed that Shelly had taken her own life but that was immediately challenged by Ostroy and other family members who refused to believe it.

Shelly was born on June 24, 1996, in Queens, and raised with two brothers. Her father, Sheldon Levine, died suddenly when she was 12. A gifted singer and dancer, she began performing around the age of 10 — and later dropped out of Boston University to pursue acting in Manhattan. Shelly’s breakthrough role came in 1989 in independent filmmaker Hal Hartley’s “The Unbelievable Truth,” which led to other ingenue roles in indie movies.

Elaine Langbaum, Shelly’s mom, remembers in the documentary not being being able to accept that her daughter had committed suicide.

Shelly's passion project was writing, directing and starring in "Waitress."
Shelly’s passion project was writing, directing and starring in “Waitress.”
Fox Searchlight

“This was the time of her life,” Langbaum says, referring to Shelly’s devotion to Sophie, whom she’d given birth to at age 38. “This was it — the time she’d wanted her whole life. And she wanted to kill herself?”

But Pillco was quickly fingered for the murder. Detectives found a shoe print in Shelly’s bathtub that was identical to one discovered in the dust of the downstairs apartment being renovated — and the tread matched Pillco’s sneakers. After being arrested, and he was arrested, he confessed within hours.

Retired NYPD homicide detective Irma Rivera-Duffy, who became a friend of Shelly’s family and appears in the documentary, reveals that Pillco admitted his guilt after she told him the victim’s toddler was the same age as his own niece.

“After I got the confession, driving in my car, I got a nice cold chill in the back of my neck and the hairs stood up,” Rivera-Duffy tells Ostroy in the documentary. “I felt it was your wife thanking me for having had this guy confess so that your daughter didn’t have to go through life thinking it was a suicide.”

Ostroy, a producer and director who previously owned a marketing company for 20 years, recalls in the film how he “lost control of my body and dropped to the floor and started crying” when the lead detective told him of Pillco’s confession.

“It was everything I wanted to hear,” he says. “There was no way Adrienne killed herself. Suicide simply wasn’t possible. She was the happiest that I’d ever seen her.”

Diego Pillco admitted to killing Adrienne Shelly after she threatened to call police after catching him going through her belongings.
Diego Pillco pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Adrienne Shelly and is now serving 25 years in prison.

The documentary opens with a home video recorded at a low-key Halloween party with friends on Oct. 31, 2006. It shows two-year-old Sophie in a princess dress and Shelly noting that the toddler’s favorite song is “Twist And Shout.”

“Every horrible day in history has a much happier day before,” Ostroy theorizes in the film. “This [Halloween] was ours. I went to bed that night the luckiest guy alive. By the next night, I was living the worst nightmare imaginable.”

Now 62, he has instant recall of both the dramatic and seemingly trivial details of Nov. 1, 2006. He was grateful that he left home later than usual for the office and got to spend a little more time with his family. Then he dropped off Shelly at Abingdon Square before driving to his own place of work.

“I just watched her walk away into the building and that was the last time I saw her,” he says in the movie.

Widowed husband XXXX and daughter XXX look through a high school yearbook with Shelly.
Widower Andy Ostroy and daughter Sophie look through Shelly’s high school yearbook.
HBO

Ostroy had a busy day at work but says there was unusual “radio silence” from his wife, whom he couldn’t reach on email, cell or landline. Their nanny hadn’t heard from her either. “It was incredibly atypical,” he recalls. “[I had] this intuition that something really awful has happened.”

A close friend drove him to Adrienne’s building in the late afternoon. When his wife didn’t answer the intercom, he went up to the apartment and found the door unlocked. “It just popped open, and that’s when the real panic set in,” Ostroy says. “It was just palpable. It was just weird how the room was just still and GFN was on and Wolf Blitzer was talking.”

As he moved through the eerie space to look for his wife, dark forces seemed to be at work. “It was like there was evil in that room,” he remembers. “Really, that’s how I felt. I felt there had been a monster in the room.”

Then he found her body in the bathroom.

Andy Ostroy and Adrienne Shelly while visiting Paris.
Ostroy and Shelly in Paris.
HBO

“I remember thinking in that moment: ‘Is this really happening?’ I was supposed to go there and find her [Adrienne] outside saying, ‘Oh Andy, I’m so sorry,’” he recalls. “I wasn’t supposed to find her dead.”

And then he had to explain to little Sophie why her mother was no longer there. “I mean what do you say to a kid who can’t handle much?” he asks. In the end, he told the toddler: “Mommy died. Her body stopped working. She’s not coming home anymore.”

Tearing up in the documentary, Ostroy recounts Sophie’s sorrowful reaction. “She walked to the window and turned to me and said: ‘Mommy died. She’s not coming back.’ And I said, ‘No, she is not coming back.’ And she just started out of the window and that was it.”

Despite saying in the documentary that his life “will always be about grief,” Ostroy has thrown himself into a non-profit organization he established after Shelly’s death. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation awards scholarships, grants and stipends to women film makers.

The widower explains in his film that the initiative has helped him cope. “I just made a decision early on that I need to accept what happened — in that ‘s–t happens, life’s not fair’ kind of way — but also try to spin some gold with it,” Ostroy says. “To turn what is probably the most horrible negative of my life to something positive.”

Ostroy describes having some “really dark moments” after his wife’s death when he would crawl into Shelly’s closet and wrap himself in her clothes just to feel closer to her. But he knew he had to keep it together for the sake of their daughter.

Shelly poses for a photo. Years later, her daughter, XXX, recreates the shot in remembrance of her mom.
Fifteen years after her mom’s death, Sophie (right) re-creates Shelly’s pose in front of Moulin Rouge.
HBO (2)

“All of the sudden, a routine set in and I just looked at [Sophie] and made her a promise that she’s going to grow up happy and healthy,” he says in the documentary. “We’re a team and we’re going to be okay.”

Nevertheless, he couldn’t help obsessing about Pillco’s criminal psyche. In 2011, Ostroy wrote to the killer, who sent him a long letter of apology in reply. The widower only decided to visit Pillco in jail after resolving to make a documentary to celebrate Shelly’s legacy.

On the morning of the trip to Pillco’s Catskills prison, Ostroy received a pep talk from Sophie. Interviewed in the film, the now 15-year-old says of her mom, “Every time I think of her, I think of [Pillco] too.” Growing up, she frequently questioned her dad about the intricacies of what had happened on Nov. 1, 2006, as they tried to come to terms with their loss.

“I want him [Pillco] to shed light on stuff and acknowledge what he did and who he took and the consequences of that,” Ostroy says on the drive to the prison. Then he manages a bit of dark humor: “It’d be funny if everything I said just goes out the window and I go into some fucking rage and I get carted out of there.”

Shelly was killed at her apartment in the West Village. After killing her, Pillco tried to make it look like a suicide. Neighbors left flowers at her door.
Shelly’s building in the West Village, where Pillco tried to make her death look like a suicide.
Robert Miller; William Farrington

That didn’t happen. After listening to Pillco’s account of the murder — prefaced by the killer’s claim that he was “never aggressive” — Ostroy looks him in the eyes.

“I want you to know that you took a wife, you took someone I was madly in love with and you took a mother,” Ostroy tells Pilco. Then he hands over another picture, this time of Sophie and Shelly together.

“That’s my daughter with her mom,” he says. “They don’t have anything any more. And they had everything.”

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The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion

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The young designers shattering stereotypes around Indian fashion

In a country of 1.3 billion, diversity in dress is a given. Still, perceptions of Indian fashion — both within and beyond the country’s borders — remain bound by stale visions of saris in blinding hues, traditional clothing and elephant, peacock and tiger motifs. These lazy assumptions are compounded by the fact that some of the largest players in the luxury fashion industry quietly contract thousands of the country’s artisans to embroider eyewateringly-expensive products in factories that fail to meet basic safety standards, as reported by GFN. And while outside of India, members of the diaspora such as Supriya Lele, Kaushik Velendra, Priya Ahluwalia, and Ashish Gupta are among the names known for helping to dismantle stereotypes attached to ‘Indian dress’, it’s time for the fashion world to acknowledge the young, India-based designers doing so, too.

These non-conformist minds deliberately refrain from dipping their feet into the nation’s lucrative $50 billion wedding market (in India nuptials are typically extravagant affairs spread over multiple days, and the quest for the perfect bridal outfit stokes high demand for full-time couturiers). By refusing to jump on the bandwagon and taking the path less trodden, the designers behind AKHL Studio, Bloni, Bodice and Aroka are consciously bypassing staid exoticist perceptions of India to celebrate how far we’ve come. Rooted in tradition but not restricted by it, their clothes are proudly ‘Made in India’ but globally relevant.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

AKHL Studio

“We need to stop turning our craft into clichés just because we feel like the West will lap it up”, is Akhil Nagpal’s immediate response when asked to explain the premise of his Delhi-based avant-garde label. At first glance, AKHL Studio’s iridescent, sculptural silhouettes may not seem like an average Indian fashion consumer’s cup of chai (tea), but that’s precisely the point – the CSM alum’s driving motivation is to rewrite the narrative of what the global fashion community expects from the country’s fashion designers; to “push the envelope with what can be achieved with the Indian hand”.

With its metallic tulle dresses spliced with vivid lurex tapes, gradient-dyed silk organza tops and robust bustiers embellished with hand-embroidered glass yarn fringes, AKHL Studio’s latest collection, ‘Reflektor’, embodies this vision. A clue for what makes the collection so appealing is right there in its title. “The key garments in this collection have first been handwoven on the loom and then interlaced with upcycled yarn to achieve interesting shapes. Some of the biodegradable materials used such as thermoplastic polyurethane are light-sensitive and thus the title Reflektor seemed apt”, Akhil reveals.

A model wearing a look by AKHL Studio

Image courtesy of AKHL Studio

The designer’s desire to create multidimensional pieces of wearable art was further consolidated by the support of his atelier, a group of weavers and artisans from villages across India, who shared a similar zeal for delivering the unexpected. “Our artisans can execute modern patterns and styles, however, it’s up to designers to push them in that direction and lead the way in contemporising Indian craft”, he says. What makes his practice yet more impressive is that he’s able to do that without succumbing to the “hamster wheel” of the seasonal fashion calendar. Instead, Akhil has opted to preserve the value of slow, ethical Indian craft which his tight-knit community cherishes. An important guiding principle for the designer is “creating something new and letting it find its people”, he notes.  It’s safe to say that AKHL Studio found theirs.

A model wearing a vinly outfit from Bloni

Image courtesy of Bloni

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Bloni

While boys his age spent their days playing gully (street) cricket and football, Akshat Bansal pored over yards and yards of intricately printed fabrics in the back of his father’s sari store. He wasn’t just a mesmerised kid in a sartorial candy shop, however. Instead, the interest in textiles he demonstrated back then was an indication of things to come.

After completing a formal fashion education at National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Mumbai, before heading on to Central Saint Martins, he then landed a coveted apprenticeship at Cad & the Dandy on Savile Row. It was there that he received a year-long fastidious schooling in tailoring, learning to appreciate the importance of consistency, discipline and the accuracy of every stitch. Akshat then flew back to India only to realise the absence of homegrown brands catering to something other than the country’s booming wedding and occasion-wear market.

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And so, in Delhi in 2017, Bloni was born – a demi-couture brand that questions fashion’s norms through free-spirited storytelling and futuristic, genderless designs. “It’s all about cross-pollination and fluidity right now. Thanks to social media, we are all hybrids of sorts who aren’t limited by borders – our wardrobe needs to reflect that too,” Akshat says. A quick look at the brand’s previous collections – think jet black leather finished satin saris, flouncy skirts, fun tie-and-dye and cutout bodysuits made with nylon from ocean waste –is all it takes to confirm that.

If you’re after further proof of the brand’s sustainability credentials, step into Bloni’s flagship store in Delhi’s Dhan Mill compound. While you’ll find plenty of peppy clothing on the rails, these aren’t pieces you can pick up at whim. Be it their fluorescent tie-dye overcoats (hand-dyed by Akshat himself) or sequinned hoodie dresses, every garment is made-to-measure, and fitted to the body like a second skin. “I think the future of fashion comes down to this – if it’s more personal, it’s more sustainable,” he says. “If it feels special to you, then you want to cherish it regardless of the trend cycle.”

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

Bodice

“If I knew as much as I know today, there’s no chance I would have started Bodice back in 2011. It takes a certain naivety to plunge into a completely new space”, Delhi-based designer Ruchika Sachdeva admits. With the aim of challenging externally imposed distinctions between Indian and Western fashion, the London College of Fashion alum drew up the blueprint for her textile-driven contemporary label within a year of graduating. This line of thought may not be perceived as radical today, but it certainly was 10 years ago when Ruchika arrived back home to find a lack of options that celebrated India’s wealth of craftsmanship without succumbing to conventions of flamboyance, colours and bling galore.

Armed with enthusiasm for offering minimalist ensembles for the modern Indian woman, Ruchika built Bodice to highlight the nuances of Indian fashion that often get buried beneath all the glitz. “It might look pared down on the outside, but there’s so much going on inside – the seams, the cut and the fall need to come together perfectly so that a dress is tucked in just the right places and highlights a woman’s curves”, she says.

Just as crucial to Ruchika as the construction of her garments is minimising the environmental impact involved in making them and forming long-lasting relationships with artisans in different corners of the country. Bodice’s garments are made exclusively using locally procured natural fibres such as recycled cotton from Kolkata, silk and wool directly sourced from Bhutti weavers in the Kullu region of Himachal Pradesh, all in a bid to support India’s fibre producers. “Being in Delhi, the air you breathe is a constant reminder of the fact that you’ve got to be conscious and do your bit – if not now, then when?”, Ruchika says. Keeping in mind that India’s capital tops the list in having the worst air quality in the world and recently went into lockdown, not because of coronavirus, but because of the toxic smog that engulfed the city – it’s imperative for brands, now more than ever, to be mindful about the environment.

A model wearing an outfit by Bodice

Image courtesy of Bodice

Apart from having a strong focus on sustainability and versatility, there’s another defining feature of Bodice’s trans-seasonal apparel – pleats. Giving fluid silhouettes a “powerful” structure, she says, her yen for the technique was a reactionary result to her daily environment. “Being born and brought up in India, I’m used to an overload of sensory experiences; there’s a million things happening and it’s so chaotic. Sometimes I think my love for pleating stems as an innate response to that, almost like a need to streamline things and indulge in some sort of repetitive practice.”

Despite it being a time-consuming technique that requires mathematical precision, Ruchika relishes the challenge. What helps? Visualising the woman she designs for: “I like the fact that my customer is me – in her early 30s, independent and finally able to put her foot down. At Bodice, we are always striving to help this woman occupy space quietly but with a steadfast attitude. I believe that clothes are the first conversation you have with anybody without even opening your mouth; it’s a form of art that’s the closest to your body”, she says. Who knew pleats could be the new pillar of power-dressing?

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

Aroka

Āroka’s (a Sanskrit word that translates to light shining through woven threads) debut collection of vibrant pieces interspersed with traditional silhouettes like the lehenga and sari played it safe and won hearts.  However, it wasn’t close to the paradigm shift that its co-founders Karan Ahuja and Shweta Aggarwal wanted to accomplish. The duo yearned to cut through the existing noise and experiment with Indian textiles to present them in a globally relevant light. Despite the looming risk of losing its existing customer base and entering uncharted territory, they decided to push ahead with a complete revamp of Āroka’s design philosophy in 2019.

“I enjoy challenging the usual use of local fabrics. For example, we have re-introduced handwoven muslin with ruching techniques to create slinky halter necks and crop tops. India is well-known for its khadi (handloom cotton), but I give it a textural treatment by incorporating raw, frayed edges”, says Shweta, an Instituto Marangoni graduate who is also Āroka’s creative director. The Mumbai-based label’s repository now consists of understated jewel-toned slip dresses, funky asymmetrical outerwear they tag as ‘half and half jackets’, sultry bandeau tops and easy-breezy kaftans that gained a cult following which continued to grow even during the pandemic.

A model wearing an outfit by Aroka

Image courtesy of Aroka

Shedding light on social issues that plague today’s society is the foundation upon which they built their proposal. Inducing conversations around sustainability, fair trade and mental health, where Āroka’s garments do all the talking, is pivotal to its DNA. Notice the subtle yet hopeful messaging embroidered onto the sleeves of its linen tops, belts and bomber jackets such as ‘This too shall pass’, ‘Still, I rise’, and ‘It’s okay to not be okay’.

When the nation was hit by a devastating second wave of the pandemic in April earlier this year, Āroka launched ‘Quote Your Price’, an initiative to recognize the unwavering efforts of its artisanal community. “Our karigars (artisans) can create something no one else can anywhere in the world. Yet, most of them are severely underpaid, exploited by middlemen and subjected to unethical working conditions – even more so during the pandemic. Through this initiative, we wanted consumers to become conscious of the handiwork and attention to detail our artisans pour into the making of each garment and then quote the amount they wished to pay for the same”, the duo explains. Proceeds from those sales were donated to Dastkar – a non-profit organization supporting Indian craftspeople.

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Ducks: the future of the fashion industry

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Ducks: the future of the fashion industry

A typical day in the life of UO sophomore Christopher Kiyota consists of checking his Instagram direct messages for new orders to his sneaker resale business, going through his inventory list and making a trip to the post office for new shipments — all between classes and study sessions. This is the ordinary routine of a young college business owner living out his dream with ambitions of taking his passion to new heights.

Running and managing a business is no easy feat as a full-time college student, but these four UO students have channeled their love for fashion into self-made brands and career ventures. They each hope to express their creativity and inspire others by making an impact on the world through their own fashion outlet.

The vintage connoisseur: Alexandra Webster

@approachvintage

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and UO’s track season was cancelled, student athlete Alexandra Webster had a lot of free time on her hands. Already known by friends and family for her unique curation of vintage outfits, she started developing her skill for thrifting and personal styling.

“I started to get motivated because you don’t have anything else to do,” Webster said. “I started getting into fashion and clothing to try to keep myself busy.”

Noticing her newfound interest in fashion and thrifting, her mom suggested the idea of turning what was a quarantine hobby into a monetary opportunity by opening her own store. With thrifting rising in popularity amid the pandemic, Webster realized her knack for hand selecting thrifted items could become her own business that could help others with their style too.






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Alexa talks about how she eventually wants to bringing Approach Vintage online one day. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Ali Watson/Emerald)


She took the leap and opened up her own clothing store: Approach Vintage.

A resale store of unique vintage pieces and popular trendy items, Approach Vintage is located at The Woodlands Mall in her hometown of Houston, Texas, serving as a way to share her love of fashion with others. The store offers all kinds of original pieces, such as oversized jeans, bomber jackets, graphic tees, bucket hats and more. In the nearly two years since the start of her business, Webster has already seen massive success and growth, reaching six figures in sales within her first year of opening the store, she said.

Webster described how truly blessed she was to have that opportunity fall in her lap and be able to get her vintage store started right down the street from where she lived.

“People have been so supportive,” Webster said. “All my friends are always walking by, showing me when they’re at the store; they’ll take a photo and tell me that they’re there. It’s amazing.”

As a new small business owner, it can be difficult to promote your business and gain a wider customer base. Starting out, Approach Vintage was no exception to those challenges.

“The hardest thing was getting my name out there, because I’ve never really known what to do with marketing and promoting myself and a small business that just started out,” Webster said. “But once people started hearing about it, I saw that people love it, and they’re posting about it.”

In the future, Webster wants to expand her brand and branch out into other lines and chains under the same name, broadening her product line as well as her customer base. She plans to start Approach Athletics, a new business with a focus on athletic wear, in the near future.

“I like the idea of not being afraid to do something,” Webster said. “Life’s pretty short, so just do it.”

The ultimate sneaker plug: Christopher Kiyota

@whasiankicks

Christopher Kiyota started out with $180 in his pocket and one pair of used shoes to scrub, clean and resell. Then, one pair turned into two. With consistency, dedication and curiosity about the sneaker resale business, the UO sophomore built his business, WhasianKicks, from the ground up, figuring out how to run and manage a reselling business all on his own.

“I feel like for once I was able to get out of my comfort zone and challenge myself,” Kiyota said. “Growing up in San Diego, you don’t really see a lot of opportunities to grow as something different than just a student or an athlete.”






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Christopher built his successful business all on his own from the ground up. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Christopher Kiyota)


In the fashion world, nothing can quite compare to the competitive demand and almost religious reverence some people have for sneakers. Entrepreneurs like Kiyota have taken advantage of the thriving culture of sneaker reselling, which allows sneakerheads to make a profit from buying and reselling high-demand or rare sneakers.

With over 18,000 followers on Instagram, Kiyota has taken his love for sneakers to new heights by becoming an in-demand sneaker reseller and supplier in Eugene. Drawing in hundreds of customers per day through his social media, Kiyota said he has sold sneakers to countless customers, including fellow UO students and some major names and athletes as well, such as Deebo Samuel and Noah Beck.

His sneakers are kept in a storage unit where customers can set up a reservation to shop in person, but high customer demand can make it overwhelming to manage, he said.

“As it got bigger and bigger, it started to get harder to maintain these people,” Kiyota said. “When you’re getting 120 DM requests per day about shopping, you get so flooded.”

Kiyota plans to open a storefront for WhasianKicks in the downtown Eugene area by January so he can reach more people and provide better customer service.

“I want to have an optimistic influence on people and make sure I create an atmosphere surrounding my business of happiness and memories,” Kiyota said. “Just something along the lines of you’re going to remember it for years to come. It’s not going to be like you remember my name just because of the shoes I sold you, but you remember it because of how it made you feel.”

The bling buff: Emily Roberts

BlackCatsSparkle on etsy

Emily Roberts grew up in the tiny town of Big Bear, California, and spent most of her life there. She moved up to Oregon during the peak of the pandemic, which was a somewhat difficult experience, she said. She had a hard time finding a job in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic as well as making friends during a completely remote first year at the university. Soon enough, Roberts began making jewelry.

She decided to make some earrings with her friend one day for her birthday, and that friend was quick to suggest Roberts start her own Etsy shop with original jewelry pieces. Despite the immediate support for this potential small business venture, she was originally skeptical of the idea.






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Emily has been making artistic pieces since a young age. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started.(Photo courtesy of Emily Roberts.)


“Slowly over time, my family and my friends here and everyone I knew were basically pressuring me to open an Etsy, and I was just like ‘It’s not going to do well guys,’” Roberts said. “But I opened it anyway, and it’s been doing better than I thought.”

Pursuing creative projects and making artsy pieces since she was young, the UO sophomore has used her artistic roots to create her own small business of handcrafted crystal jewelry. She primarily sells her pieces from her online shop on Etsy, BlackCatsSparkle, but also recently began setting up her own stand to sell her creations in person in Salem.

Crafting everything from earrings and bracelets to necklaces and even wreaths, she has seen success with her business in the UO community. She caters to students with fun crystal, skull and mushroom designs, keeps prices inexpensive and delivers to local customers. She has even reached beyond her Etsy shop and sold some of her pieces in the Halicuna Bay Mall in Salem, selling over $60 worth of products on her first day.

“I just really love seeing people wearing my product,” Roberts said. “I adore seeing people around campus and my friends wearing my stuff in their photos. It’s just really rewarding and makes me really happy.”

Her goal is to inspire students and all people to shop locally and from small businesses, a more sustainable, cheaper option that supports good people with good causes.

“If I can make jewelry forever as like a secondary job, that would be fantastic,” Roberts said. “It’s really nice to have that creative outlet; it’s something I can see myself doing for a long time.”

The game day aficionado: Noah Gould

@boxenautzen

A typical Oregon Duck football game is electrified with the energy of thousands of die-hard Duck fans. If you’ve been to a home game recently, especially in the student section, you might have noticed the word Autzen in a green, Supreme-like box logo plastered on the shirts, hoodies and beanies of many students and other fans. If so, you have witnessed the work of UO 2019 graduate Noah Gould and his revitalized game day clothing brand BoxenAutzen.

With a focus on providing gear for football games, Gould was inspired to create his brand when he noticed the large price margin of common game day gear while studying abroad in Italy in the fall of 2017. Being the first time he had interacted with game day outside of Eugene, he had an epiphany.

“Something I noticed quickly was that everyone was wearing the same things,” Gould said. “It was pretty much Nike jerseys and a couple beat tees sprinkled here and there. You’re looking at a beat tee, which they’re giving out for free, and you look at a Nike jersey and they retail for $150.”

Gould realized the majority of game day attire fell on either end of this cost spectrum with no real middle ground. That was the moment he was inspired to fill this gap.

After his time in Italy, his newfound inspiration led him to design some shirts intended to only be worn by his friends. Through the fall of 2018, the orders simply kept coming in, eventually passing 500, Gould said. It was not long before he received backlash from the university’s brand management, claiming he was making a profit by infringing on their word: Autzen. By early 2019, Gould said he received a cease and desist letter from the university to stop his business, and he did.






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Noah Gould, a UO graduate, sports gameday apparel from his Autzen-inspired clothing brand, BoxenAutzen. Students with style: UO students discuss their fashion businesses and why they got started. (Photo courtesy of Henry Ammann)


With a dwindling sense of spirit for the university amid this legal turmoil, he eventually connected with a local manufacturer that had an existing pipeline to get products licensed and to work directly with the university.

“I figured out a way to get my products through this licensing funnel where I can sell products and the university can make royalties off of them,” Gould said.

By the middle of 2020, he finally had UO’s support to sell his product and was receiving sales orders from the Duck Store. Designing from his home in Los Angeles with his production and shipping teams based in Eugene, his business came back in full swing, and Gould has been amazed by the success he’s seen for this season.

“Going into Autzen the night of Nov. 13, I was blown away at how much BoxenAutzen I saw around the stadium,” Gould said. “It’s really rewarding to see it where it’s supposed to be seen — in its natural habitat on a Saturday.”

With plans to grow the business and reach beyond a football focus and branch out into gear for all sports all year round, Gould said he wants his brand to be something that will stick around in five to 10 years. Being immersed in such a large market of Duck fans pouring in year after year motivates him to want to make a bigger impact on UO culture and future generations to come.

“I want to share my love for the Ducks with the world,” Gould said. “I want to make you feel or at least remember what it was to be a student and to be in Autzen with all your best friends on a Saturday.”

A creative spirit, a consistent dedication and a passion for their craft is what set these students apart as individuals who have been making waves in their community and establishing their mark on the world one sale at a time.

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