KSU student finds international success with “Steel Clothing” line


Matt Kolic, a senior entrepreneurship major, has started his own fitness clothing line called Steel Clothing. Primarily comprised of sweatshirts (like the one he’s wearing here) and T-shirts, (like the ones surrounding his workspace), Kolic’s exports are international. His business averages six to seven online purchases a day. Photo by Jacob Byk.

Ozie Ikuenobe

Athletes around the world are sporting Kent State student Matt Kolic’s “Steel Clothing.”

Kolic, senior entrepreneurship major, started the fitness and bodybuilding clothing line in April. A former exercise science major, he decided to switch to entrepreneurship after taking an Intro to Entrepreneurship class. Kolic then decided he would combine his interest in fitness with his new major by starting a clothing line.

He said he uses what he learned in his Intro to Entrepreneurship class and his major to run his business.

“I wouldn’t know what to do had it not been for those classes,” he said.

Kolic said he hired freelance designers that have worked with Nike, Red Bull and Hurley to create unique logo designs and graphics. His use of social media grabbed the attention of Mr. Olympia winner Phil Heath, prompting the bodybuilder to start a line with Kolic called “Gifted Athletics.” Kolic said the company’s popularity has even spread to other countries.

“Since it’s really catching on, we have problems with inventory sometimes,” he said. “I’d say over 50 percent of our online orders are all international. So we’ve shipped to close to 10 countries now.”

Aaron Rowley, business partner to Kolic and Kent State graduate, said social media helps.

“Just being able to get in contact with people that otherwise, five years ago you never would even be able to get at them,” Rowley said. “That really helps marketing-wise.”

Kolic said he has found that the most success in starting a business is hidden in a direct niche because a person can reach the target audience faster. He and Rowley said they are looking to further their success by having booths at the Natural Northern bodybuilding contest at Lakewood Saturday and the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus in March 2012.

“If you want to start a company, find a niche that you can enter,” Kolic said. “It’s a lot easier to meet people and move up because it’s so specific.”

Craig Zamary, an entrepreneurship-in-residence professor for the College of Business Administration, helped Kolic put the company together. Zamary, who mentioned that Kolic was very nervous when he first pitched his idea in Entrepreneurship Experience class, said Kolic made an incredible transition by the end of the class.

“I am so proud of what he has accomplished in such a short window of time,” Zamary said. “He really has done a phenomenal job.”

Contact Ozie Ikuenobe at [email protected].