Digital culture sophomore Cameron Benally spends his free time in front of a sewing machine, designing bright and vibrant additions to specialized hats and T-shirts for his fast-growing list of customers.
Benally’s grandmother taught him to sew at a young age, and what was once a hobby has turned into Profound Product, a fruitful business.
“I just saw different brands doing it,” he said. “I didn’t think there was enough variety, and I thought I could make them for cheaper.”
Benally buys hats and makes them his own, taking into consideration what the customer wants. He uses patterns and ideas ranging from Navajo culture to beach scenes, flamingos and Sparky.
From early beginnings creating T-shirts with special patterns for the pocket, he quickly grew his small operation into headwear.
By taking any hat he owns, or that is sent to him by a customer, he creates special patterns for the brim that make the hat stand out in a sea of people around campus or at a sporting event.
“When I first started, I wanted to make my hats like the ones I saw,” Benally said. “Students around campus would see them, and they started getting interested.”
Any style of hat can be customized. It doesn’t matter if it is a snapback or fitted.
Computer information systems sophomore Tyler Lederman and business sophomore Brian Keeble, close friends of Benally, were his first customers and became a large part of him expanding the brand.
“He started making these shirts, and I thought they were really cool,” Lederman said. “I would go around with him sometimes and help him pick out fabric and new designs.”
Keeble loved the design’s simplicity and, like Lederman, helped Benally pick out fabrics and designs for new shirts and hats.
“I think they’re really cool,” Keeble said. “I would like to see him make designs for hoodies and have different styles.”
Now that the demand for his T-shirts and hats have picked up, Benally is looking to broaden his design field.
“I plan on branching out this fall to baseball shirts, and start doing some screen printing,” he said.
When Benally first branched out to headwear, he was concerned about trademark and copyright issues, but he said after doing some research he found he had nothing to fear.
“I researched trademarks and copyrights and since I don’t officially license the apparel, I can do whatever I want,” he said.
ASU law professor Dennis Karjala reiterated Benally’s findings on trademark and copyright law.
“If you buy a hat with a Nike symbol and doctor it up, as long as you’re not selling the item as Nike, it doesn’t infringe on any laws,” Karjala said. “The general rule is exhausted once it is legally sold.”
Benally has a large online presence for his customers to check out his products and easily purchase items, as well as contact him to design hats the consumer already owns.
He started a small photo business in high school and carried that mentality to college to start this new venture.
“I’ve always been an entrepreneur,” he said. “My family is used to it and has been very supportive.”
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