Penn State student gets creative with her small business Han Made Clothing

CDT photo

Hannah Schwalberg didn’t know what she was on to when down time met creativity.

As a Penn State freshman last year, she made modifications to clothing to give it her own style, which prompted requests from friends and then friends of friends and finally people she simply didn’t know.

Schwalberg took the next obvious step, creating Han Made Clothing — an apparelbusiness that gives that shirt you have in the bottom of your drawer a new look.

“I didn’t think about it ever becoming a business,” Schwalberg said. “I didn’t foresee selling it, an Instagram page for it and articles. It’s not that I didn’t want it to happen, but how could you predict it?”

What was a fun hobby to share with friends became an equally fun, but time-consuming small business.

“It really started because I saw something similar online that was too expensive, and I decided I could do it myself,” she said. “When it became a business I didn’t really know how to price things, but I wanted it to be affordable to help students. When I thought about the price of materials and how much time I put into each piece it falls around $30 a piece. It varies depending on what people want.”

Schwalberg revamps and customizes about 15 to 20 pieces of clothing, usually for collegiate apparel, a week. She has also considered bringing someone else on board to help answer emails, ship shirts and possibly make shirts so that she won’t be overwhelmed if requests continue to pour in from across the country.

The sophomore has customized shirts for students at schools such as Florida State, Tulane and Colorado State. She even managed to put her Penn State pride aside and made a shirt for an Ohio State student.

“My client base has mostly been juniors in high school to college students and some alumni,” Schwalberg said. “Right now it’s mostly requests based on the school someone goes to or someone’s favorite sports team.”

What will be tricky, she said, is how to customize clothes for men.

“That’s something I’m looking into,” Schwalberg said. “No boys have asked for anything yet, but some have approached me. I don’t think they want sparkles and laces.”

If her own startup weren’t enough, Schwalberg also does marketing for Wheeli, an app that will launch soon for college students.

“It is a carpooling and ride sharing app exclusively for students,” she said. “Someone can post on the app that they’re offering a ride, or someone can search for a ride.”

The app will let users know who is driving, where they’re going and it can be set to match people for things like traveling only with boys or girls, traveling in a silent car or if they want someone who is talkative.

“It also has an algorithm to determine gas prices and tolls along the way, and then you pay through the app,” she said.

Schwalberg still finds time for school.

“I have to work around that first,” she said.