Upon graduation, many Broad College alumni have left their alma mater to contribute to the ongoing revitalization of Detroit. Two Broad Spartans, Josh York (B.A. Supply Chain Management ’16) and T.R. Hollis (B.A. Marketing ’15), have made MSU proud by playing a part in these efforts. This month, York and Hollis were recognized in Crain’s Detroit Business on its 2020 list of 20 in their Twenties.
Reimagining the T-shirt business
York is living a designer’s dream as the CEO of York Project, a clothing line he founded in 2012 at age 19. “T-shirts say a lot about people. They’re such a cool canvas that everyone can appreciate,” York said. “When I first started making them, it was so cool to design and make T-shirts for my sports team or band. You’d forever have that memento as a memory from that time in your life.”
In terms of design, York explained that he draws influences from everywhere. However, York Project is not simply about creating something fashionable. A self-described “social streetwear company,” the line was founded with a mission of serving the homeless using a one-for-one model: for every item purchased, another is donated to someone in need.
York Project has expanded far past its humble beginnings, now manufacturing its clothing in Detroit’s Northwest Goldberg neighborhood with American-sourced materials. In 2018, York started a business-to-business arm of the brand dedicated to producing clothing lines for brands such as Shinola, also based in Detroit, and international corporations such as Miracle Whip.
Currently, York has adapted standard operations from clothing to protective facemasks in the fight against the novel coronavirus. “My team is incredible and worked hard to adapt and reconfigure our line, so we were able to pivot successfully,” he said.
Despite shifting operations, York has big plans for the future of the clothing line. “We’re really focusing on shifting up the York Project brand,” he explained. “We have an incredible team in Detroit and capabilities to manufacture all of our garments, and our goal is to manufacture 100% of our line in our shop by 2021.”
“I’m really proud to be considered for this recognition,” York said of the listing from Crain’s. “Owning a business can be incredibly challenging, and it’s great to be acknowledged in such a public way for all of my hard work.
“There is a lot happening in Detroit, and we’re uniquely [positioned] to become a hub for manufacturing,” he continued. “I don’t know that it will ever measure up to New York, but I see Detroit taking a strong stance in the garment manufacturing world.”
Partnering and giving back
Since 2017, Hollis has served as the sponsorship manager for Quicken Loans. In this capacity, he leads Quicken’s partnerships with the PGA Tour, American professional golfer Rickie Fowler and 21 college athletic programs, among many other sponsorship programs, sweepstakes and initiatives.
In addition, one of Hollis’ primary responsibilities is leading the Rocket Mortgage Classic, Detroit’s first and only PGA Tour event.
“Our mission is to host a world-class PGA Tour event while simultaneously benefiting the Detroit community,” Hollis explained. “The proceeds from the event will be directed back into the Detroit community, benefiting veterans and their families, education and opportunities for learning and neighborhood enhancement.”
Due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s event was rescheduled to take place in July, without spectators, but with community support.
“This year our vision has shifted to COVID-19 relief within Detroit, and specifically to bridge the digital divide for residents through investments in access to technology, internet and digital literacy,” Hollis explained. “The Rocket Mortgage Classic has always been more than just a golf event. With this in mind, our objective this year is for the Rocket Mortgage Classic to serve as a platform to bring awareness to Detroit’s recovery and raise funds to address Detroit’s digital divide.”
Hollis takes the marketing lead on several of Quicken’s athletic partnerships with ease because of his wealth of experience.
“ESPN was my first job out of college, where I was able to work on pinnacle sporting events such as the Champions Classic, Jimmy V Classic and Division I college bowl games,” he said of his role as an event coordinator. Hollis also served as a global brand marketing intern with Nike prior to joining Quicken, gaining experience in brand and event marketing.
“I’ve been fortunate to start my professional career at some of the largest and most iconic brands in the world and am thrilled to be able to come back to my home state of Michigan to make an impact on my company and city at such a young age,” Hollis said.
As Quicken Loans, and its co-founder Dan Gilbert, have been major proponents in the revitalization of Detroit, Hollis has been proud to join this legacy of impactful work.
Like York, Hollis was grateful for the recognition by Crain’s. “I’m incredibly honored to be recognized among such an impressive group of Detroit professionals,” he said. “It certainly makes me feel great about the work and impact I’ve made so far but also provides me with energy and passion to do even more in the years ahead.”