If there is one thing that can be supported in a college town, it is a T-shirt shop. However, the idea of selling Ole Miss and Greek life T-shirts in Oxford has become a saturated business market, with a number of T-shirt designers and retailers moving to town to support this need over the last couple of decades.
Two entrepreneurial college students came to Oxford and identified a deficit in the market for “cool” vintage clothing. Jackson Vanderslice and Luke Little founded Oxford Vintage.
Vanderslice came to Ole Miss from Austin, Texas. He is an undergraduate student majoring in civil engineering. In addition to studying for this difficult major, he always wanted to start a business.
“I have always wanted to have a side hustle,” he said, “and it made sense to start a business as a young person so that the business could hopefully grow with me.”
Vanderslice gathered a few entrepreneurial friends and began brainstorming ideas about which product or services they could sell that would fill a need in the Oxford community.
Each person involved in the store is also involved in extracurricular activities at Ole Miss, so they knew the kinds of T-shirts worn by college students. While college students often want to represent their sororities, fraternities, or school spirit, there is also a need for stylish, casual clothing. An interest in vintage, unique clothing has surged among fashion-savvy college students.
Vanderslice and friends decided to fill the void offering stylish, vintage, one-of-a-kind clothing, which was lacking among boutique and college apparel shops in Oxford. Oxford Vintage was born.
“We got to go shopping for vintage clothing online to get a collection going,” Vanderslice said, and then they decided to operate the business out of their apartment through an online presence.
Regarding marketing and reaching customers, Vanderslice said, “Technology is everything when it comes to Oxford Vintage.”
Vanderslice and company hired a friend who created a Facebook and Instagram page for their merchandise and helped create the brand.
To attract customers interested in vintage clothing, they purchased ads that target visitors of vintage clothing sites, taking advantage of Google’s “targeted marketing program.”
Vanderslice said his ultimate goal is “to be a nationally known, online clothing retailer of one-of-a-kind vintage clothing.” With his good attitude and work ethic, it is likely Oxford Vintage has a bright future.
Another founding partner of Oxford Vintage is Luke Little, an Ole Miss sophomore majoring in business. Little said Oxford Vintage provides an exciting opportunity for him to “apply what I am learning in my business classes to a real live business.”
Making money is the ultimate goal, but Little said when starting a business, it is important to do something you enjoy. Each of the guys has a keen fashion sense and eye for what college students might want to buy. The common phrase in the office is “Would you wear it?” which helps them decide which vintage items to sell.
When asked what items Vintage Oxford sells, Little said, “basically anything that you can put on your body – hats, shirts, shoes, belts, pants, and jewelry.”
If it is vintage, it is fair game for their company. Little said it’s difficult to say where the company will be in five years because each of the partners will likely be getting other jobs and moving away from Oxford.
There are two likely scenarios. Oxford Vintage may take off enough during the next couple of years so it can be sold – essentially buying out each of the owners and selling the rights of the business to a bigger clothing company or online retailer.
A second option is running the business as it is now (a cottage business), but finding underclassmen to take it over. Either option allows for Oxford Vintage to continue, and that is his ultimate goal.