Entrepeneurial spotlight: Student starts positive design business

By Michaela Kaberline
On October 12, 2011

Between school and work, sophomore Andrew Fleeman creates designs and organizes orders for his business, ‘Unearthly Designs.'

A computer science major of Manila, Fleeman started the company in the middle of 2010. But his interest in design began during his junior year in high school.

"I bought T-shirt templates online and created my first design," Fleeman said. "I posted it to Facebook and asked people to ‘like' the design if they would buy it if it was made into an actual shirt. After several people ‘liked' it and commented on the design, I knew it was something I wanted to pursue."

During his first semester at ASU, Fleeman worked at Elite Graphics and learned how the whole screen printing process worked.

"It was really great to work there and learn all these cool new things," Fleeman said. "I always wanted my own business, but actually learning how everything worked, really pumped me up."

‘Unearthly Designs' operates out of Fleeman's truck and dorm room as of right now.

"I'm a poor college student," he said. "All the money I do make from work is put into buying supplies and stuff for the business. One of my bigger goals for the business is to actually have a physical building for the business."

Right now Fleeman's girlfriend, Natalie Marcus, helps book events and projects for ‘Unearthly Designs.'

A public relations major, Marcus uses the information she's learned from her classes to help promote Fleeman's business.

"I help him get in contact with businesses and with customers through Facebook and even through our actual store Web site," Marcus said. "I also contact local churches and youth groups through Facebook and add a link to their wall that will take them to ‘Unearthly Designs' page. That way they can look at some of the designs and might order their own shirts."

This Saturday ‘Unearthly Designs' is sponsoring a concert at the Manila Airport Center. ‘Unearthly Designs' attended a chili cook-off in Manila Oct 1. Fleeman set up a booth and sold T-shirts while sharing information about the company to passer-bys.

The company will also attend an arts and crafts show Dec.. 3 at Manila's Community Center. Marcus said they will be posting more information about the Dec. 3 event on their Facebook page as time gets closer.

With the business up and running, school and working as a graphic designer in the Student Union, Fleeman said things get pretty crazy.

"I have to keep up with orders and with my school work," he said. "I'm at school starting at either 8 or 9 in the morning, depending on what day it is, and with work I'm here until 5 every afternoon. I'm taking 15 hours and with my major plus basic classes, I have about six or seven hours of homework each night. Man, it gets crazy."

Fleeman said it is hard to own a business, keep up with school work and go to work.

"Somehow I keep it all together," Fleeman said. "It normally takes about two to four weeks from when an order was placed to when the customer actually receives it. Since I make the designs by myself, it may take me a while to actually get everything together. Plus, I have to make time for school and work. But it all gets done sooner or later."

Marcus said she also helps Fleeman with getting orders ready to be shipped out.

"I normally just get everything together for the orders," Marcus said. "I'll fold the shirts and organize the orders to make it a little easier on Andrew."

Patric Howie, sophomore sports management major of Crossett, said he was attracted to ‘Unearthly Designs' because it "makes unique T-shirts in order to spread God's love to others."

"Andrew has done an awesome job putting God's word on amazing shirts," Howie said. Howie currently has the "I Will Worship" shirt.

Fleeman currently has two models that showcase the many designs of shirts he has made.

Sophomore radio-television major of Bryant, Allie McKinley is one of the models. McKinley said she met Fleeman through an honors class last year.

"He told me about his design company," she said. "I loved his designs and what they represented. When he later approached me about modeling, I was excited to help out. I really like the look of his designs and think he has serious talent. And I'm not going to lie; the fact that I got a free T-shirt for being a model was pretty awesome, too."

McKinley said Fleeman's design company is different from others because he takes his work very seriously.

"I'm sure he enjoys what he's doing, but this isn't just a random hobby to him," McKinley said. "He's actually trying to build a company."

Although Fleeman does not have an actual store to showcase all of his designs, The Refinery at Turtle Creek Mall sells some of the ‘Unearthly Designs' shirts.

"The fact that his designs are actually being sold in a store, to me, sets him apart from other student designers," McKinley said.

Fleeman said he hopes to get a team together to help make the business run a little bit smoother and to reduce the pressure on him.

"The thing about having a team helping me out is that currently I have no extra money to pay the team if I had one,' he said. "But if anyone wants to help me design for free for now, that would be great. And hopefully one day, we'll get really big and be able to have several paid employees working with us."

‘ Unearthly Designs' can be found on Facebook at www.facebook.com/unearthlydesigns, on Twitter @unearthlytweet or at their online store, www.unearthlydesigns.com.

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