Waterford – Just over eight months after Hurricane Ida hit Aston Avent flood printing and custom design, its business has found a new name, a new focus and a new home.
Through perseverance and resilience, Avent’s T-shirt World had its grand opening on May 14 at the Crystal Mall.
Avent had originally opened the business in 2012 as Main Avent Athletics and Apparel. The hurricane of September 2, 2021 had left much of its stock and equipment within 4 feet of water in the Foundlight 66 Sunlight Building on Franklin Street in Norwich. At the time, the business owner and professor at Eastern Connecticut State University estimated his loss at about $ 30,000.
On Monday, he said: “Thirty could have been a small number. I lost everything. All our inventory … We lost our repeat customer files, in addition to our machines being damaged, so with that , there is nothing I can really recover from. “
The insurance would not cover his losses and he said the relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have come in the form of a loan that would have to be repaid for 30 years, so he didn’t think that it was a feasible option.
“I said,‘ I’ll find a way to do it and I’ll do it, ’” Avent said.
The business had its smooth opening at Waterford Mall, 850 Hartford Turnpike, in late March.
“I don’t even know how I did it,” the 42-year-old said. “We had to change the brand a lot and find a way to bring more support services to people … That’s why we went from Main Avent to T-shirt World, a little more universal. Then I was thinking about the big picture.” .
Part of that included the creation of two personal brands, which Avent describes as a fashion breakthrough.
“It’s not just a normal t-shirt,” he said, holding a long-sleeved t-shirt with hockey-style laces with “BLK” written with inflated letters on the front. Another example hanging in the store has the black and white rhinestone logo on a custom hooded sweatshirt.
“BLK” or “Bold Loyal and Kind” was inspired by recent events.
“I thought it fit the times with George Floyd and everyone talking about diversity, equity and inclusion,” Avant said, referring to Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis in 2020, sparking Black Lives Matter demonstrations. across the country. “I thought we’d subtly combine everything and come up with a positive message.”
The second, “No Luck All Hustle,” is a look at the obstacles Avent has had to overcome in his life, including the devastation of his business that is still thrilling to talk about. “That’s me: no luck, all in a hurry, that’s the definition,” he said.
When asked how he coped with the loss and the setbacks he faced, he explained: “Since I grew up in Hartford, you’ve only found one way to overcome it. You only find one alternative: hold on, because you know a better thing “.
He continued: “Everyone always talks about ‘peaks and valleys,’ but no one really talks about valleys. I think that’s how you get to the top. You are in the valley … When you are in the valley, you become more creative; you work a little harder “.
In addition to its branded merchandise, its store sells pre-printed clothing, plain t-shirts and custom t-shirts that can be made to order based on your current order volume. T-shirt World also takes bulk orders, custom orders for companies or fundraisers, offers screen printing, embroidery and sublimation printing, a process where ink is transferred directly to the fabric.
In addition, it offers an online store option for other entrepreneurs, such as an individual who is currently doing small-scale production or has an idea. “You may not have a website; he may not have all the resources, but he is hungry … he just needs a chance, so we will give him an e-commerce platform “, explained Avent.
The customer gets a website, but Avent controls the back, taking care of production, fulfillment of orders and shipping.
A graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with a master’s degree in business administration from Albertus Magnus, Avent says his education has helped him with all the reinvention and innovation he has had to do, and he tries to pass on the knowledge. which he has acquired from his students. It accepts ECSU students for internships, which it adapts to its objectives.
“I call them ‘your own practice’. I put them in a position to test all the theories they had in the classroom to bring it to life here, so if you like social media marketing, “Here’s our social media. Let’s see what you can do … They have real work experience,” he said.
As Avent moves forward with its new business, it is ready to keep innovating and adapting.
“Nothing in life is easy,” he said, “you have to go out and work for it.”