by Abby McDowell
11 May 2018
Does the ‘E’ in E-A-S-T stand for Entrepreneur? For Oswego East senior Cristian Paz, it does.
Cristian Paz has spent the last school year creating his own fashion line and sitting as the CEO of his own clothing company: Union Streetwear.
Cristian said that Union Streetwear is going to put him on the map and allow people to express their creativity, exemplifying his entrepreneurial attitude.
“I see myself as a person that has a good sense of fashion and love what the fashion world is all about. People use clothes as a method to express themselves and I fell in love with that idea,” Cristian said.
Not only does Cristian have a love for fashion, but he also has a need to create projects. Creating a clothing company has allowed Cristian to combine those two passions.
“I always found myself trying to start and create projects. Creating a clothing brand has always been a project on my bucket list,” Cristian said.
When the idea of a clothing company came to Cristian’s mind, ‘Union’ seemed like a natural brand name for him.
“Being born in the city and traveling a lot to the city, I see Union Station as a trademark to the city of Chicago,” Cristian said. “The word Union is defined to signify blending of purposes to create one entity or purpose, and that’s also a beautiful thing.”
However, creating a clothing line with limited budgets independently can come with difficulties, including time and work.
“The process of starting a company and a brand takes a lot of time. For starters, developing a name for the clothing brand and creating our message or our purpose [were] my first two steps,” Cristian said.
It wasn’t just creative work Cristian had to do. Cristian also had to go through many legal steps in order to legitimize Union Streetwear.
“I had to apply for a license in online retail. I continued through the same process to trademark the name Union Street Wear,” Cristian said. “I had to wait for 3-4 weeks to be approved by the state. After I was approved, I filed paperwork to legally become an employer for any future employees I hired.”
Even though the work took a lot of time, Cristian said that it was important to do it without the direct help of his parents, but he is appreciative of their support.
“My parents were supportive of my ambitions as they always knew I enjoyed creating new projects for myself. They already knew I was into fashion so it was easier for them to understand the idea and concept of what I was doing,” Cristian said. “They offered help in any parts they could, but I felt this was really my job to make this become a reality in any possible way and they were there to support me.”
“Like all businesses, I expect a growth and fully understand this is not an overnight thing. This company, to really get its wheels turning, will take months if not years to really establish itself and that is what I look forward to.”
— senior Cristian Paz
Although Cristian denied help from his parents, Cristian was happy to partner with senior Caleb Harris for Caleb’s understanding of the brand’s message. Caleb stands as CFO for Union Streetwear where he organizes spreadsheets, books models, and works with advertising.
“I picked Caleb Harris to partner with me in Season 1 of Union Street Wear because he showed interest and commitment to the brand. I could tell he wasn’t just in it for the money but for the creativity I was trying to express,” Cristian said.
Caleb said that he believes in Union Streetwear’s message and hopes the clothing line will go far.
“I liked the idea behind the brand, being yourself and wearing your culture despite the society we’re in really piqued my interest,” Caleb said.
It’s not just Union Streetwear’s message that Caleb and customers like, it’s also the people behind the brand, according to senior Aashi Patel.
“I wanted to support my friends in starting their new company. I loved the idea of them creating a business that reflects their personalities. When the line came out I loved the uniqueness and the individuality in all of their products,” Patel said.
With the help of Cristian and Caleb’s hard work, Season 1 (first line of clothing) of Union Streetwear is a success.
“Our whole season 1 campaign has been a surprising success in many people’s eyes. I did not expect to get this much positive feedback and it really motivates me to do better,” Cristian said.
As CFO, Caleb sees their success in a numerical sense and believes the brand is doing much better than anticipated.
“The launch has been going great. Orders come through at a steady rate and we are on our way to breaking even,” Caleb said.
Aashi added that the brand’s success is due to the fact that their store is so different from other major brands.
“I think that when people see a small brand like Union Streetwear, their shopping experience becomes a little more personal. People like personal, so I’m sure that’s one reason they’re seeing so much success,” Patel said.
Although Union Streetwear has been seeing success, Cristian and Caleb are working towards futures that involve Union Streetwear, and are excited to see what is down the road.
“I would like to be a part of Union Streetwear as I go to college at Howard University in D.C. and help influence and advertise the brand from there. I’m excited to see what the future brings us,” Caleb said.
As Caleb moves east, Cristian plans on travelling west to submerge himself in fashion education.
“I plan to move to Los Angeles this summer to network with communities of people in the fashion industry,” Cristian said.
In true CEO fashion, Cristian is prepared to to take what he has learned so far and from his future experiences to make Union Streetwear an even bigger success for it’s Season 2.
“Like all businesses, I expect a growth and fully understand this is not an overnight thing. This company, to really get its wheels turning, will take months if not years to really establish itself and that is what I look forward to,” Cristian said. “Season 2 will be in development shortly after our Season 1 collection is over. I will take all my failures and successes in this season and apply that to make it a learning experience so I can move forward with more success than before.”
Orders can be placed at Unionsw.store.
Abby McDowell is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the HOWL