“There is nothing more fulfilling than waking up and seeing your designs posted across social media,” Advanced Placement co-founder Scott Goldstein said. “That feeling is what motivates me to keep working towards this dream.”
What started as an opportunity for two friends to create a project together their senior year of high school has now expanded into something much greater. Advanced Placement Clothing is a Boston-based apparel and accessory company that was founded in 2017 by Elon University junior Scott Goldstein and his friend Burke Lanzillo. With merchandise ranging from sweatshirts and t-shirts to stickers and hats, Advanced Placement has grown from a small, local establishment into a fully functioning operation backed by a dedicated support system.
Named after the Advanced Placement (AP) programs offered in many high schools nationwide, the brand wanted to change its target audience’s perspective on societal and educational expectations. The stressful and competitive nature of school environments during the college application and admission process is something that is seemingly unavoidable for many people.
Choosing to take a different path to success and enjoy what challenges you is a possibility many students are unaware of, but is something that Advanced Placement is working to encourage not only in school, but in life. Neither co-founder was enrolled in AP classes during their high school years, and they used this experience of diverging from the norm as the foundation for their project’s mission.
“While many can say they’ve taken an Advanced Placement class,” Goldstein and Lanzillo state on their website, “few can say they have a brand named after it.”
This idea to create a clothing brand stems from the co-founders’ lifelong experiences within the heart of their city. They were able to gain exposure to retail workplace environments and the logistics of selling merchandise, but were also moved by the impact clothing and art has on self-expression and identity. Boston has a rich culture full of diversity and opportunities, so it provided the perfect setting for the brand idea to grow and for creativity to flourish.
“I credit my interest in streetwear to the countless jobs I held in clothing and sneaker stores growing up in Boston,” Goldstein said. “It’s all had a huge impact on my life. The city continues to inspire me”
Conjuring designs is easy for creatives like Goldstein, but there is a routine process in order to take these designs from the drawing board to the shelf. Both co-founders are passionate about graphic design and individually create drafts of new ideas. The designs are then shared amongst the pair and they collaborate to improve or veto graphics.
“We have a ton of designs saved that we can pull out to use for new merchandise whenever we need to,” Goldstein said. “We often veto a lot of graphics to run for a variety of different reasons, sometimes for no good reason other than it doesn’t grab our attention in the way we would like our pieces to.”
Many designs produced are limited edition, and many have become classics within the regular audience. With so many intriguing and original designs consistently being released, the company is able to keep customers interested. Seasonal collections keep up with fashion trends while proving to be unique to the brand. Products such as the quintessential rose-logo sweatshirt have become a common sight over the past two years on Elon’s campus as friends of Goldstein’s help to create brand awareness and support the company’s efforts.
“It’s important to stay determined, not everyone is going to love your stuff,” said Goldstein. “You just have to keep putting out the best products you can while keeping your audience in mind.”
One of the most important aspects of the company that has driven its success is its avid social media presence. With accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, Advanced Placement has used these media platforms to better reach its millennial target audience.
“Social media is massive for new companies, specifically clothing companies in my opinion as it’s incredibly easy to promote and build a following on social media for a clothing brand,” said Goldstein. “I’m not saying success is easy, however creating a presence to promote your products and establish your brand’s personality is an easy first step to get there.”
While the company is mainly an online establishment with clothing sales on its website and promotions on its social media, Advanced Placement has begun to make its way into retail stores. Paying homage to the city that nurtured the co-founders’ passion, the company’s apparel can be found in Boston clothing boutique and skate shop Sizerun.
“Having our products in stores in our city means a lot,” said Goldstein. “It helps us to feel connected to our roots while making our mark on our immediate community.”
In terms of the company’s future, it’s looking bright. Advanced Placement has been able to get influential athletes, such as No. 1 overall NBA draft pick and former Duke University star Zion Williamson to sport their apparel. Seeing these role models rocking the products he has designed is exciting and motivating for Goldstein.
“We plan to continue working and improving the company with hopes to one day see more artists and rappers representing the brand and promoting the cause behind it,” said Goldstein.
For those looking to follow in such entrepreneurial footsteps, the co-founders highly recommend searching for a mentor. Advanced Placement seeks advice and leadership from Rod Rosales, the owner of Sizerun. Seeking guidance from Rosales has tremendously helped the brand get to where it is now. A mentor can help with graphic design, “look book” photography, branding, finances, and nearly anything that may need a little extra work.
“A mentor can motivate and increase brand confidence,” said Goldstein. “Our company is now able to create better business strategies and more efficiently solve problems when we need to.”
To the Advanced Placement founders, it is more than just a clothing company or a way to make some extra cash. It’s about the drive to create products with a purpose, to promote the outward expression of individuality and refusing to conform to societal or educational norms. People appreciate the love and dedication that’s poured into the brand, something that makes Advanced Placement stand out from the rest. Wearing the apparel turns a customer into an advocate for the brand’s overarching mission, which was the co-founders’ goal was from the start.
“Do what you want to do, do what makes you happy. Being like everyone else makes you boring.”