Zack Schwab (C’11) and Calvin Andrews (B’11): Co-founders, Givons

When Zack Schwab and Calvin Andrews graduated from Georgetown, they realized they were headed for real-world office jobs and would need to dress like the semi-presentable, newly-minted adults they now were.

With their limited new-graduate budgets, they set off to find some standard office attire: suits, slacks, and particularly, button-down shirts; however, Schwab and friends were never able to find shirts that fit them well.

“[At] places like Gap and J. Crew, I’m not sure who their target ‘perfect fit’ is, but it wasn’t me, nor was it my friends at that time,” Schwab said.

They knew there were likely others in search of the same thing—high-quality, well-fitting, affordable shirts.

An Inspired Idea

In the summer of 2012, Schwab and Andrews began to look into the cost and overhead required to start a shirt company. Inspired by the business models of Warby Parker and TOMS, and by Georgetown’s call to be “women and men for others,” they wanted a product that not only catered to their target market, but that was also able to help those in need.

To help reduce overhead costs, the friends elected to create an online store instead procuring of a brick-and-mortar space. Then, they needed a product. The traditional Oxford-style button-down shirt was a perfect product to start with because of its versatility.

“We don’t consider ourselves to be very preppy, but we chose the classic Oxford style since it can be dressed up or down, and can be worn by everyone at work or on the weekends,” Schwab explained.

After more than a year of trial and error, they found a prototype they liked. Their final version included a bright green button and would become the brand’s signature.

“Calvin and I both dislike when apparel brands prominently display their logos on their products, so we knew we would never do that,” Schwab noted. “But we wanted to do something that would make our shirts subtly unique and give people some recognition for choosing to support a socially responsible company.”

They realized they would need someone to help manage logistics, so they decided to collaborate with Hwanhee Kim, a friend Schwab had met through a previous internship, to help with marketing and product development.

“We knew that there were a ton of things that have to go on behind the scenes with making, marketing and distributing retail clothing items. She was able to put all of this together,” Schwab said.


 

Helping Out at Home

For every two shirts that Givons sells, it will give one shirt to “an American in need.” As stated on their website, the company believes that “the best companies are both profitable and socially responsible.”

“We decided that we wanted to address poverty and need right here in our own country,” Schwab said. “We felt that giving back to those here at home would be a way to connect with the community and make it more personal for us.”

Givons is currently working with two organizations, Hospitality House in San Francisco, and Career Gear in New York, both of which provide disadvantaged and homeless persons with job interview preparation skills and professional clothing. Givons hopes to one day have a list of charity partners from which customers can select at checkout, so buyers can decide where the donated shirt will be sent.

Looking Ahead

Givons is planning to offer their shirts in more color, style and fabric options, to appeal to a broader customer base. Their “boyfriend” style—which is marketed to women—also will be offered in more styles in the future. They sent out their first shirt orders at the beginning of this year and are excited at the response thus far.

By combining a classic product, an innovative business model and service to others—the Georgetown spirit of giving that has been in style for more than 225 years—these young alumni believe they are destined for success.