Akron resident Frank Miller III always knew he wanted to own his own business, but getting there was tough. With little funds, Frank started printing shirts in his dad’s basement, sleeping on couches as he worked toward his dream. Then came the 2016 NBA Finals with his hometown Cavaliers up against a dominant Golden State Warriors team. Down three games to one, the Cavs rallied back to force a Game 7, and emotions were running high in Akron (the hometown of LeBron James) and all over Ohio. Could the Cleveland Cavaliers pull off a storybook comeback?
Amidst the nerves, Frank saw an opportunity, and he reached out to his childhood friend and designer Preston Clark. Before the ref had even thrown the ball into the air, the duo designed a Cavaliers World Champions t-shirt, printed 100, and went to view the final game at their local high school. Fate was on their side: the Cavs won, shirts flew out of Frank and Preston’s hands and 7th Floor Clothing became an overnight sensation.
“It was a gutsy move. We were either going to sink or swim after this one,” Frank said. Two years later, Frank and Preston are proud to run their own streetwear brand, offering apparel from embroidered hats to jackets and t-shirts. The pair has even diversified to launch their own natural skincare line.
Frank and Preston thrive on the excitement and the unknowns of entrepreneurship. “Every day is different,” Preston said. “I've got a key to the office, and I come down here and create whatever I think of. I can put it out there, and people actually buy it – that's exciting for me.”
“People get so caught up in knowing how much they're going to make this weekend, how much they can spend to eat this week or what they’re going to pay off this month,” Frank said. “As entrepreneurs, we're gambling every day to see where we end up at the end of the week or at the end of the month. I love the unknown of being an entrepreneur – that motivates me.”
Learning about entrepreneurship as they went, Frank and Preston wanted to share their learnings and help others take charge of their financial standing, too. They started 7th Floor Academy, where they train entrepreneurial, high-achieving high school students interested in starting their own apparel brands. “I have a nine-year-old daughter, and this is something I hope to pass down to her one day,” Frank said.
For others considering starting their own business, Frank has a succinct message: “Don't give up, don't give up, don't give up,” he said. “It will get worse before it gets better. Just don’t give up.”
Score your own hats, t-shirts and skincare necessities at 7th Floor Clothing on eBay.
7th Floor Clothing is a participant in Retail Revival, a partnership between eBay and the cities of Akron and Warren, Ohio, to support small business owners who want to introduce their products to the global marketplace.