Faith-based apparel is a growing market with robust competition, and 27-year-old Jaylen LaGrande intends to ascend above the rest. He is the founder of 3:16 Collection, a fashion-forward, Christian lifestyle brand based in Texas.
He has customers here in the U.S., as well as Australia, Sweden and Germany, and a franchise in South Africa is planned for the near future. Officially launched in 2011, this year marks a milestone for the global company as revenue has hit the first $1 million dollar mark.
LaGrande is a lifelong entrepreneur. “I started my first legal business — when I say ‘legal’ I mean like registered with the state — when I was 11 years old,” he said. “I had a card shop called J’s card designs. I was doing business cards, flyers, custom greeting cards, gift bags and T-shirts.”
While his friends were partying in college, LaGrande focused on building his empire. After relocating from Detroit to Texas, he overcame several challenges due to him being a young Black man.
Yet, when he saw a problem, he created a solution.
“I was frustrated with the status quo of what they made Christian apparel to be. It’s like I can wear this to the church picnic, I can wear this to church, I can wear this around the house, but it’s not fashionable,” he said. “I was looking for things that I could relate to as a millennial because statistics show that millennials are falling away from church, but I don’t think that means that we’re falling away from God. It’s just we’re indulging a little differently. I think we are more falling away from religion and ritual and leaning towards more relationship-based.”
Like many entrepreneurs, LaGrande previously sold merchandise out of the trunk of his car. While rebranding his business, he took a wise risk.
“So, literally, with 38 cents to my name, I contacted my mom, and she sent me four boxes of shirts down to Texas, and I went to the mall and told them what my idea was. Two weeks later, I raised $2,000,” he recalled.
“At the end of 2015, I started designing my own shirts, and I moved to Dallas, opened up in Stone Briar Mall as well as the Galleria Mall. I went from carrying everybody else’s stuff to creating my own line. Everything is all fully customized and everything is 3:16 branding.”
As a mogul in the making, LaGrande, who’s also an author, has learned that entrepreneurship isn’t about instant gratification. His 2018 book, 38 Cents, chronicles his journey to success.
“People talked about me, like ‘You own a business and you driving that raggedy car.’ But what they didn’t realize was I was investing in things that were going to yield a return versus things that were going to depreciate,” he explained.
“It is not just about the money, it’s about peace of mind, it’s about well-being, and it’s about being strategic. Relationships are key because relationships will take you where money can’t.”
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