Sutton’s path as young entrepreneur

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Sam Sutton at Juinor Nationals, wrestling for Alabama National team (photo by Bill Strickland)

Max McCutcheon, Staff Writer

Sam Sutton learned from his failed attempts as a business owner to put together his magnum opus: Rich Habits. 

The idea of business ownership has been at the forefront of his mind from a young age. Sutton has been set on entrepreneurship from the start. His first venture came in middle school: sports trading cards. Mainly staying in the realm of basketball, he would collect the rarest cards of the best players and turn them around for profit on Facebook.

In his sophomore year, he started his second business. The app Night Owl was a delivery service app. This app promised delivery of whatever the user wanted with the upcharge of convenience fees and the ability to request rides at any hour of the day. 

The idea did not last long as there weren’t many customers, but this did not hinder Sutton’s dreams of accomplishing something bigger than himself. 

The next big idea was Stallion Incorporated. The inspiration came from trying to gather many people so that he could sell custom T-shirts. The brand’s first event sponsoring was a three versus three basketball league. The Edgewood 3v3 League was a very successful 10-team league, holding games regularly for multiple weeks.

Sarah Lawson Mistrot (left), Sam Carr (center) and Carter Vail (right) pose for the “Birmingham line” photo shoot. (photo by Sam Sutton)

Sutton’s ideas and hard work were finally bringing success. Shirts sold well at events and on the Stallion Inc. website. With the end of the league came a decline in sales of merchandise.

The side hustles did not stop there, as Sutton would buy large quantities of snacks at wholesale stores like Costco and Sam’s Club and sell them throughout the halls, bringing in lots of extra cash. 

After this buzz stopped, it seemed Sutton was in a drought business-wise. Coming into his senior year, he would have to be more focused on academics and bettering his career in wrestling, but he still worked on future projects behind the curtain.

He would embark on a collaborative journey with close friends Carter Vail and Sam Carr to start yet another clothing brand, but this one would be different from previous attempts. With the control in the hands of three determined individuals, the business is starting on a better track. 

The three knew they wanted to create something together and started brainstorming. The first idea was to create a golf apparel brand. With more thought, they realized that avenue had many restrictions and limitations on creativity, having to stick to a uniform template that has long controlled the style.

The idea for streetwear was introduced by Vail, who has a great interest in fashion and style. The guys threw around ideas for clothing and branding with the knowledge that it’s essential, to be honest with each other to achieve the best result.

Grabbing inspiration from a hoodie Vail had previously purchased, the name Rich Habits was born. Once they had the name, the boys went to work.

Carter Vail in a photoshoot for the “Birmingham” line (photo by Sam Sutton)

Each used their unique skills to do their part in finalizing the business and preparing for launch day. Sutton, having a background in computer skills, made a website he hoped would be easy to navigate and look appealing.

Vail and his innate sense of style started working on designs and logos while taking criticism from the other members in stride. He also managed marketing on social media. 

Meanwhile, Carr contributed ideas and helped spread the word on Rich Habits.

A lot of nights brainstorming ideas and collaborating on designs led them to a few that were ready to show to the world; their simplistic design is a look they predicted to take off, and it did.

After launching, the shirts sold out within the first day of the site being up, forcing the team to restock rapidly as demand grew. 

Rich Habits seemed exactly like Sutton’s previous attempts at building a business, but this unprecedented success called for a different approach.

“We want to touch all areas of fashion,” Sutton said. “We want anybody to look at Rich Habits and see something they would wear.”

After its initial success, Vail questioned his dad on how to make this more than simply a fun project. 

The team’s parents, surprised at how seriously the boys were taking this endeavor, happily invested in their kids’ ideas.

A clothing brand has always been a big dream for me and now it’s happening. I could care less what other people say, as long as I’m doing it and I’m having fun doing it, oh well.”

— Carter Vail

With the help of Vail’s dad, the boys established an LLC and filed all of the taxes behind what is now an official company, backed by Alabama law: Rich Habits.

Along with their dedication, the quality of the product they were selling contributed greatly to the brand’s success. They used the most comfortable shirt material they had access to rather than the cheap methods of printing logos.

Sutton’s audience has always been critical of his ideas and often tried to put him down. He’s traveled this road many times, so he’s learned to let this negativity roll off his back, a mindset the Rich Habits team has adapted to.

Sutton and his team have already started looking toward the future of their brand and the necessary steps to further its growth. 

They plan on reaching a wider audience by implementing different clothing styles, including new lines such as activewear and clothes that appeal to more than just men. 

The reality is, after this year the three seniors will be spread out across the country at universities, but they accounted for this and made plans that will make it possible for the brand to prosper and live on.