Sean Kelly is a 21-year-old college dropout from Rutgers University. He started Jersey Champs in his college dorm during his freshman year, and it would end up changing the jersey game forever.
Jersey Champs Is unlike most jersey companies. Instead of jerseys featuring professional sports teams and athletes, Jersey Champs sells custom-made designs featuring whatever is trending. They create a wide variety of jerseys from your favorite television shows, rappers, and video games. They partner with some of the largest celebrities and companies to bring unique jersey designs to the market.
I sat down with Sean Kelly and asked him a few questions on how he built his jersey empire.
Did you have any investors when starting Jersey Champs?
Sean Kelly: No I did not have any investors or mentors when I first started, but I made sure to stay educated by watching tons of videos about eCommerce and Marketing. I’d actually recommend against taking on an investor for your first startup because you will be making a ton of mistakes when you first start out. Too many people think they need tons of money to start a company, but that is far from the truth.
How did you get the brand name out there?
Sean Kelly: I utilize as many marketing tactics as possible and try to automate them as quickly as possible. I used to do everything myself, but I found hiring a team to do the tedious work was the most important business decision I’ve made. I used to spend 15-18 hours a day emailing, fulfilling and working on tedious tasks. As soon as I outsourced these time-consuming tasks, I devoted more of my time to marketing and reaching out to influencers to help grow the company. I originally ran Facebook and Instagram Ads when first starting out and also purchased shoutouts from large Instagram pages. I have probably spent over $250,000 in shoutouts and partnerships in order to grow the Instagram page to over one million followers.
What was your biggest wholesale order?
Sean Kelly: We work with a ton of music festivals and music artists. The most notable order is from the rapper, 2 Chainz. He ordered nearly 800 jerseys last year when his album, “Pretty Girls Like Trap Music” dropped. We also deal thousands of units on a monthly basis to other companies which we can’t mention due to confidentiality agreements.
What other celebrities have you partnered with besides 2 Chainz?
Mark Cuban, Michael Rapoport, Dwayne Wade, Dez Bryant, Logic, Khalid, Marcus Peters, Kyrie Irving, Lil Pump, Martavis Bryant, Fabolous, Young M.A, Lil Wayne, Futuristic, Landon Collins, 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Jae Crowder, YBN Nahmir, Casey Veggies, Soulja Boy, Supreme Patty, Dave East, Migos, Perez Hilton, Clint Capela, Terrance Williams, Skinny From the 9, Brandon Ingram, Victor Oladipo, Karl Anthony Towns, JaVale McGee, Tai Lopez, FATBOY and many others.
That is a quite the list How did you partner with so many celebrities?
Sean Kelly: It took us nearly a 16 months before we landed the first A-list celebrity which was 2 Chainz. I cold emailed thousands of artist’s managers for months. It wasn’t easy. Since that deal went so well and they sold so many jerseys, a ton of other celebrities started reaching out to us. Our quality is something we completely believe in and we have never received a complaint about it.
How important is branding?
Sean Kelly: I can’t stress the importance enough. Branding is SO important. All these “drop shipping” companies won’t be around for the long run. When you start a brand, you have a foundation and a company everyone trusts. Our following will continue to grow, our conversion rate has gone up tremendously since inception. When we first started it was .25% and now we convert nearly 5% of our customers and it goes up severely every year. The top companies in the world have the highest conversion rates and sales because of branding.
What’s next for Jersey Champs?
Sean Kelly: We are excited to enter into some new markets. We have been working with sports leagues and teams and just launched our wholesale division. We also are looking to get into the eSports Jersey world heavily and can hopefully sponsor some Fortnite streamers this year. We make sure to always stay on top of trends.