Spergo CEO Trey Brown considers expansion after $ 300,000 investment in Shark Tank
Top Young Bosses Barbershop & Hair Salon in North Philadelphia was one of Trey Brown’s first stops selling t-shirts with a lion logo. Taken with the aplomb of the 12-year-old, store co-owner Nell Moore recorded it on her phone. “My name is Trey Brown. I started my own clothing line, ”the youngster says in the video. “The name of my clothing line is Spergo and Spergo is a catchy name that I have found. I have a lion right here because he’s the king of the jungle and I’m a young kid.
Hip-hop-influenced streetwear is experiencing a resurgence and Trey, now 15 and CEO of startup clothing brand Spergo, is enjoying it. Spergo opened two mall stores this year, including one in King of Prussia, operates an e-commerce and has entered into a $ 300,000 investment deal on ABC’s Shark aquarium in November. In the reality TV series, entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of famous investors.
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Daymond John, the founder of clothing company FUBU, agreed to put the money for a 20% stake in the brand, valuing Spergo at $ 1.5 million. Trey said during the recording of his episode that Spergo is on track to generate $ 2.2 million in sales this year.
Trey, who lived with his mother, Sherell Peterson, and younger brother, Amir, in southwest Philadelphia when he started the business three years ago, started with $ 178 in birthday money, by contracting with a Philadelphia custom printing clothing company for its first T-shirts. Media companies have rejoiced in the uplifting story of an African American teenager from an early entrepreneurial entrepreneur – “Don’t let anyone get a hold of your talent or your mind.” Lionhearted, ”he said in an ad campaign.
Peterson, who drove Trey to Philadelphia peddling hoodies in the trunk of his sedan, describes the Spergo clothing company as some kind of lark that took off. Trey researched the clothing lines, reinvested the profits back into the business, and gained confidence. Sean “Diddy” Combs publicly endorsed it. Now the mother-son duo – Trey is CEO and Peterson is COO – face the daunting task of taking Spergo to the next level in the trendy streetwear market.
“Because we’ve done so much on our own, we need a team, a strong team,” said Peterson, 38, a graduate in accounting from West Chester University and a master’s degree in education from Eastern University. “So not only do you look forward to getting a financial investment, but also getting a partnership with people who already have systems in place and who can connect you with people who can get you where you need to be. must go. “
Peterson said the Shark Tank funds could be used to hire a fashion designer and expand the brand globally.
Trey’s next steps will be crucial, experts said. Spergo will need to expand its product line while maintaining sufficient inventory for quick delivery to customers who won’t want to wait weeks for cool clothes at luxury prices. Spergo’s brightly colored clothing line includes $ 80 sweatshirts, $ 98 hoodies, $ 90 sweatpants and $ 68 women’s body dresses.
Two stores are not enough to justify a valuation of $ 1.5 million, said Fred Hurvitz, professor of commerce at Penn State. “So they’re going to try to take it bigger. My biggest concern is that this is a trendy item. What is the next generation of the clothing line? “
Sheri Lambert, professor of marketing at Temple University, said Trey “has hit the sweet spot. He has a rapper who approves of him and he’s on Instagram. Trey has 100,000 Instagram followers on @ceotreybrown. Lambert added that streetwear is “trending now and you have to keep it that way.” But, Lambert added, for Spergo to evolve, it may have to be bought out.
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Michael Solomon, professor of marketing at St. Joseph’s University, said that Trey “got lucky, but you have to make your own luck as well. The streetwear craze has been building for some time and it entered this space at the best time, especially for a minority entrepreneur.
Solomon added that with streetwear “the brand is history and it’s really useful when you don’t have to make it.”
FUBU, the popular clothing line of the 1990s, means “for us, by us” – an empowering slogan for the black community. Trey coined the name Spergo by combining parts of “sports” and “heroes” and nailing “go” for go-getter at the end. Triple Play Sports, a screen printing, digital printing and custom embroidery clothing company on South Ninth Street, helped design the logo, based on Trey’s ideas, and made the first T-shirts, said Peterson.
“Everyone’s launching a clothing line,” said Jeremy Guida, sales manager for Triple Play Sports. “We’re having fun with that. Some people who come have good ideas. It really is how you sell yourself. We are happy to see its success.
While Trey was selling t-shirts and hoodies in Philadelphia, WHYY made a story about him in December 2018. INVESCO, the Atlanta-based investment management firm, heard about Trey through the article WHYY and featured it in a 2.5 minute documentary style film. aired on CNN to spotlight start-ups and market one of its financial products. It was part of Invesco’s “Investing in Greater Opportunity” marketing campaign.
In 2020, Combs announced with Ellen DeGeneres that he would give Trey a $ 25,000 Entrepreneur Grant. Trey – who reinvested all of his profits back into the business, Peterson said – believed he would invest the funds in pop-up stores in Texas, North Carolina and other states. But the pandemic shattered that idea. Instead, Spergo opened a store in Brewerytown. “Philadelphia has given us a lot of love,” Trey said.
Spergo closed the Brewerytown store in September. Peterson said the building had been sold. But Spergo has opened malls in King of Prussia and the Pentagon City Mall in Washington. Trey’s grandfather, Steven Hite, helps out at the King of Prussia store. Peterson said Spergo is considering a store in Atlanta. They now live at Lansdowne.
Trey attends a home learning cyber school and, although he’s almost 16, he’s still too young for a driver’s license. During an interview with the King of Prussia Mall’s Spergo store, Trey said his original idea was to hit as many Philadelphia barbershops as possible to sell his Spergo t-shirts. “We just went to different places each time. There are a lot of hair salons in Philadelphia. Normally they turn off the music just to hear me speak.
Top Young Bosses co-owner Moore said his barbers, stylists and clients were elated when Trey walked into his store with his duffel bag of T-shirts. Moore even started cutting Trey’s hair after meeting him. And Moore said he would see Trey around, still selling. “I was driving down the street and I saw him walk into stores and they weren’t even barbershops.”
Trey and his mother drove many miles in his black Kia Forte around this time. “At the time the payments for the car have gone up,” said Peterson, “the car too.”