Growing up, Zach Cohen enjoyed listening to his father tell stories about how he used to work in his father’s clothing factory in the heart of New York City.
“He used to describe the fun he had helping his uncle lay out giant rolls of fabric on a cutting table, move huge amounts of material to the seamstresses, along with other factory tales” said Cohen, a 2012 graduate of Sonoma State University. “I have always wanted to be involved in something that you can touch and feel; then ultimately pass it on to my family down the road.”
He appears well on his way to meeting that goal. Cohen, 24, recently kick-started his entrepreneurial career by generating $12,000 in seed money from 128 investors on Kickstarter, a program that helps bring creative projects to life.
His success put him in the top 25 percent of Kickstarter users for the amount of money raised and success in meeting his goal. Inspired by his grandfather’s abandoned clothing business, Cohen created Cohen & Sons Apparel, and has gained attention nation wide in the past three months.
In 1947, his grandfather Jack Cohen opened up his own clothing factory in the heart of New York City.
For almost 50 years, the factory generated quality garments until competition overseas caused him to close the factory doors. Sixty-six years later, Zach Cohen was in a motorcycle accident that gave him some insurance cash and enough guts to quit his agency job and revamp the family business.
Cohen & Sons was recently featured in the men’s magazine Maxim, on the Yahoo Finance webpage and even ran an advertisement in Times Square in June. So far, Cohen has been doing well on his Kickstarter, which has raised over $11,800 to date. For this particular project, investors receive different levels of clothes depending on how much they donate.
In just the last year, Cohen & Sons went from just an idea to a clothing company that ships out just shy of 1,000 pieces a month.
Cohen did not anticipate growth and he never imagined shipping apparel all over the world.
“Its been totally insane and I just can’t believe it” says Cohen.
The Cohen & Sons brand promise states, “creating men’s casual apparel that’s simple, stylish, and fits the way it should, without a crazy price tag.”
In fact, since Cohen cares so deeply about his customers and the quality of his products, there is even a “Love it or send it back guarantee. (We’ll pick up the tab).” Cohen’s dedication to his clothing is evident through his deep appreciation for his customers and mentors.
Cohen benefited from the Sonoma State business program, mentioning how he truly appreciated the teachings of Kyuho Lee and Sarah Dove. Specifically, Cohen stated that Professor Lee was very influential in terms of understanding what it takes to start a company and what it takes to retain customers.
“He sometimes, after an hour of questions, would shoo me out of his office with one-liners like ‘Just go, do it, What do you have to loose?’ Cohen said.
Sarah Dove also gave Cohen a great amount of career advice and helped him make some important connections throughout his time at Sonoma State.
“I really wouldn’t be here without the skills my professors taught me,” said Cohen. “First thing I learned is that you can only go about three days before you have to sleep. On a serious note, starting a business pushed me miles from my comfort zone and then some.”
Cohen said that every day he learns how to approach new challenges and learn from his mistakes.
“It’s hard not being involved in every detail from stitch to ship. However, I have a great team that makes sure everything meets my high quality standards.”