Tired of clothing that fell short of his expectations, Fresno State alumnus Jeff Brenner decided to take things into his own hands. Inspired by family and the pursuit of passion, he turned his grassroots college business into a new success.
New Color Clothing CEO and founder Jeff Brenner (center) with friends and girlfriend (right). Brenner said he likes to use his friends in company photo shoots. “They may change [and not want to be in New Color photos] down the road, but I want to keep them in it for as long as I can,” Brenner said. Photo courtesy of David J. Orozco Photography
Brenner, founder and CEO of New Color Clothing, said the idea for a clothing company came almost three years ago when he couldn’t find T-shirts he liked.
“Either the design was too crazy, or the T-shirt quality was terrible,” Brenner said. “A lot of companies try to increase their profit so much that they sacrifice the overall quality of their product.”
At a certain point, Brenner said he just decided to design T-shirts himself.
“A lot of my friends and family liked the idea, and I began receiving all kinds of support,” Brenner said. “I decided to turn it into a legal business, and from that point on, I was dedicated to treat it as such.”
With so many clothing companies in the market and determined to make quality clothing, Brenner said New Color Clothing stands out by keeping quality above quantity.
“Rather than trying to drastically increase my profit margin, my focus is researching the best products on the market, hiring the best printers I can find, and putting it together to create the most comfortable and best fitting articles of clothing you can buy,” Brenner said. “This cuts down my profit margin, but it’s worth it because it makes my customers happy and in turn, reoccurring.”
The journey, Brenner said, was not without its challenges. He said his degree in communications prepared him for marketing his business and communicating with customers, but not for actually running it.
“I had absolutely no idea about business licensing, trademarks, taxation, marketing and all that good stuff,” Brenner said. “There were many times that I thought I was going to have to throw in the towel, but through my mistakes, I have learned what works and what doesn’t.”
On the company’s website, Brenner declares New Color Clothing is about, “the pursuit of individualism” and pursuing passions, “regardless of the risk.”
Brenner said he developed this philosophy after seeing so many classmates pursuing careers they weren’t passionate about.
“I get it, the economy is rough right now, but it makes this problem so significant,” Brenner said. “The ‘safe route’ that so many people are taking is robbing them of their creativity and passions.
“I, personally, could not imagine working a job every day for the rest of my life that I didn’t love, so the foundation of this brand is to encourage people to embrace the things they love rather than giving in to the expectations our society has of us.”
In his own life, Brenner said he draws inspiration and encouragement from his parents, especially his mom. Brenner said in her career, he saw his mother turn down jobs specifically to work places she could make a difference, like with children in the field of special education.
“Even though the pay isn’t great and the job itself is often overlooked and unappreciated, she has a heart for the kids and believes that she can have a positive impact on them,” Brenner said. “Needless to say, my entire life has consisted of her modeling this ideology.”
Brenner designs his company’s clothing, the banners and promotional images on the website and does freelance design work on the side, but is currently going through the graphic design program at Fresno City College to improve his skills.
Although Brenner said he would love to see the brand blow up in the next five or so years, he said he doesn’t want the business to define him.
“All I know is that I won’t let myself sell out and have a career that I don’t love,” Brenner said. “That being said, hopefully in five years New Color will be successful, but life happens, and you just adapt.”
Brenner said his dream is to take the company to southern California and break into the surfing industry, but knows anything can happen.
“All I can do is hope that everyone’s support will start a ripple effect and allow it to take off,” Brenner said. “I’ve seen some great brands die out and some terrible brands blow up.
“But like I said earlier, as long as I love it, it’s successful in my eyes.
“That’s the only thing I’m positive will never change.”