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By Dylan Hoosier and Noah Thomasson
Special to Niagara Frontier Publications
It truly is possible to do anything you invest your time to. Today, entrepreneurship is popular and it starts as early as the teenage years. The creation of your own products or clothes can create a difference to the intended audience you seek to reach. What separates a brand from the others it is competing against? Its message.
An uplifting, encouraging message is what Dom Lewis and Silas Fairclough seek to spread through their clothing brand: Orange Juice Produxions. Orange Juice Produxions, better known as O.J. Pro, is an online clothing business but was established in Buffalo.
O.J. Pro is ran by two twenty-year old college students with a vision to encourage their audience and keep their audience inspired through creating clothing that promotes a positive message: one of self-care, self-love and self-development.
“I’ve always had these creative ideas and I just really wanted to try something, because I’ve always loved my creative side.
“Then we created O.J. Produxions,” Dom Lewis said.
From left: Silas Fairclough and Dom Lewis modeling O.J. Pro Hoodies. (Photo courtesy of O.J. Produxions)
O.J. Produxions is a small clothing business targeted toward an adolescent and early adulthood audience. While anyone can cop (buy) O.J. Pro clothing, the message O.J. Pro has created is simple: a message advocating for self-love and mental health awareness.
“Before we even started the business, I was really taking interest in self-love and trying to be the best version of myself,” Dom said.
Dom also added that his own personal interests helped fuel the idea to create the business. Originally, Dom started out assisting his ex-girlfriend in her own clothing business.
“My ex-girlfriend let me help her with her clothing business.”
“I really had fun doing it. Through helping her, I learned how to do it myself. And with my creative mind, I made the decision to branch out and start my own business,” Dom said.
But he could not do this alone.
“I knew I needed a business partner. Someone I had great chemistry with,” Dom said. That’s when Dom called Silas Fairclough, his best-friend since the third grade.
“Dom and I always had great chemistry. It started to form during backyard games of basketball against his stepdad.”
“It’s really hard to describe, we just connect way further than any of our other friendships … that’s like my brother,” Silas said.
According to Dom and Silas, it was not a question of whether they wanted to be business partners; but rather what to name this business endeavor.
“O.J. Produxions,” Dom and Silas said.
Given that the logo is of a character sipping orange juice, that’s where the O.J. part came from.
“Since this is our product, we added productions to it, but with an ‘x’ instead of ‘ct’ just to be different,” Silas said.
Product that includes an assortment of different color and styled t-shirts and hoodies for any customer interested. As the business has progressed, O.J. Pro has dropped “limited edition” release pieces including Christmas Editions, Mental Health Awareness Editions and Breast Cancer Awareness Editions.
Silas Fairclough with O.J. Pro models, modeling summer O.J. Pro graphic tees. (Photo courtesy of O.J. Produxions)
In order for any business to be worth it, the business must have a purpose. Creating clothes with encouraging messages and positive affirmations are both under the umbrella of reminding people, or customers, that they matter and that there is more to life than remaining stressed.
“Each design we come out with, we want to help uplift our audience,” Dom said.
“We want people to associate O.J. Pro with self-love and self-development. Overall, we’re just a business that wants to see everyone reach their full potential,” Silas said.
Outside of O.J. Pro making money for Dom and Silas, they both agreed that it means much more to them outside of collecting checks.
“The recognition around the city of Buffalo and around different college campuses is cool but this business is ours. Dom and I really love what we do,” Silas said.
The ownership of the business has only strengthened the friendship between the two, according to Dom.
“When we first started two years ago, we had no idea how running a business worked,” Dom said.
With little financial resources and limited helping hands, it was solely on Dom and Silas to figure out how to run the business together.
“We didn’t have startup money or the needed connections and materials. When we had first found a guy to work with us, by making our shirts, he quit on us the day of our first release,” Silas said.
These early hardships were the necessary learning steps for O.J. Pro. When first starting the business, it was almost grand opening, grand closing.
“We started the business at the wrong time. Starting out, there were just a bunch of obstacles thrown at us that we didn’t necessarily know how to navigate because we had no one to guide us through the process,” Dom said.
“We kind of just learned as we went along with the business. I would definitely say the obstacles we faced were defining moments for us. We realized this was something we really wanted to create no matter how many struggles we had to face,” Silas said.
In situations where the only way out is through, O.J. Pro found success through pop-up shops, social media advertising, online website building and word of mouth advertising.
O.J. Pro pop-up shop. (Photo courtesy of O.J. Produxions)
Outside of the early hardships the business faced, Dom and Silas were met with yet another challenge: what was the plan on how to expand the brand while being college students? Both agreed that they believe there are more advantages than disadvantages to living on a college campus while having the business.
“This is our target audience. Young people around our age. So, it makes the word of mouth advertising much easier for us, because we can promote the business directly to the people we meet,” Silas said.
With every positive, a negative must be taken into account.
“It can be hard to get the people on different college campuses to become customers because sometimes they only see us as friends. That is right, but it is still a business that we are building. Sometimes it can be tough to draw that line at times,” Dom said.
With the growth of social media over the years, Dom and Silas believe that despite the disadvantages to being on a college campus, social media advertisement and self-advertisement have worked in the business’s favor.
“We are connected to multiple friend groups on different college campuses. With our shirts being visibly seen on me and Dom and our friends when they wear shirts, it is one way to grab other people’s attention and get them to tell their friends about us and to follow us on our social media pages,” Silas said.
“Once we get people interested in our brand, we really rely on how good our prices are, the quality of our clothing and just who we are as people. We are supportive and friendly with everyone we meet and become friends with, and usually they show us the same type of love; which has made it easier to expand,” Dom said.
While keeping the business is not the long-term goal for Dom and Silas, they are committed to taking it as far as it can go.
“Eventually, we’d like to get it profitable enough to sell it to someone,” Dom said.
“But if it blows up and grows in a way we didn’t expect, we would like to get a small store somewhere in the city that we could sell our clothes out of,” Silas said.
“A message we’d like to send to our potential customers and viewers is to come lock in with O.J. Pro!
“But also, no matter what losses you take it is possible for you to bounce back and keep going after what you want in life,” Dom and Silas said.
Dom Lewis presenting an O.J. Pro T-shirt. (Photo courtesy of O.J. Produxions)
To find out more about O.J. Produxions you can visit their website, www.ojpro.weekly.com, and you can follow their instagram page, @ojproduxions.
This is a Niagara University student-created piece completed as part of the course CMS 226A. For more information, contact the Niagara Frontier Publications’ managing editor.