Former Jacksonville resident Jake Thompson is going strong since leaving town after high school … "Texas Strong."
Thompson, a 2002 Jacksonville High School grad, launched his own Dallas-area apparel business a little more than two-and-a-half years ago called Compete Every Day.
"We are a small business doing our best to remind people that the strength they need to overcome adversity and change circumstances already lies within them," Thompson said.
With the recent hire of Charlie Strong as the head football coach for the University of Texas in Austin, Thompson's Compete Every Day sales received a noticeable increase in sales – of one item in particular.
The company already offered a shirt with the logo "Texas Strong" across the front, but when the news of Strong's hire was announced, he created a black and burnt orange shirt option bearing the logo.
"We promoted it throughout the weekend on our multiple social media channels, and my friends, both
Longhorns and otherwise, helped out by sharing," Thompson said.
Thompson said he had planned to re-release the shirt with the college's colors during the summer of 2014, but he decided to accelerate the idea.
"We sold over 100 in the first couple of days since the coaching announcement and over a week and a half later, are still having three to five sold per day. The orders including that shirt (along with other items individuals have ordered) has brought in more sales than we did our first year (May-December 2011)," he said.
His shirt even caught the attention of media outlets at NBC in Austin and Dallas, he said. Thompson said his business has gotten orders for the shirt from previous customers, but most of the orders have been from people unfamiliar with Compete Every Day until Strong's hire. He added that his data showed that most people found the shirt through a Google search or through advertisements on Facebook.
"We've grown exponentially over the last 32 months and are finally hitting consistent sales numbers, but it's been a jumpstart to 2014 that we hadn't anticipated. Most sales decline after the November-December holiday sales rush, but we are expecting another record high this month with the Texas
Strong burnt-orange option leading the charge," he said.
The "Texas Strong" concept was designed for a CrossFit gym in Dallas, Thompson said, but after receiving "incredible feedback for the shirt," he introduced it to the Compete Every Day store. It has been available in its original color of blue since this past May.
Despite his recent success, Thompson said apparel and fashion were never his career goals.
"I initially created the idea of Compete Every Day and competing for one's life as a way to pour positive into what I felt was a largely negative world. It had started as an extension of my consulting business, AthElite Marketing, and grew from there," he said.
He said he began selling the shirts out of the back of his car, and the business has since grown into an international lifestyle brand, welcomed and worn by individuals from a variety of backgrounds, professional athletes and celebrities.
"It's been a hard road for the last two-and-a-half years going up against large competitors with big marketing budgets while simultaneously learning the business 'on the job,' but each week we receive a note through email or social media of someone who found inspiration in the CED message or kept competing against the adversity in their life because of a shirt design, message, or tweet we put out. It's humbling and energizing for my team to see this through," Thompson added.
Thompson received his bachelor's degree from Texas Christian University in 2002 and his masters in business from the University of Dallas in 2008. He was played quarterback and ran track for JHS.
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