Starting an Empire
Entrepreneur balances MU classes, other job with running business.
A slim selection of Arrognt Empire clothing hangs in the back corner of Muse at 22 S. Ninth St. The clothes are flying off the racks, and the store barely has any left. Muse begs for more from the clothing line owned and operated by an MU student.
Between his class and work schedules, Richard McKeever was able to help his clothing brand thrive after starting it earlier this year. With a full schedule, McKeever has to find time to design whenever possible. While studying for upcoming tests or during his work as a carpenter, he will steal a moment to jot down a design idea that pops into his head.
McKeever’s dream of working with clothing, however, has been a long time coming.
“In high school, it was a dream of mine to create a clothing line,” he said. “I felt like it was a good way to confront social issues and it was done in a really creative way.”
As an engineering student, McKeever said his major provides him a unique perspective when trying to solve problems, including larger social issues such as drug and alcohol abuse.
“They (drugs) keep people from being the best they can be,” he said. “I’ve had a friend who dropped out of school because of drugs. I’ve had a friend who totaled a car because of drugs. It holds people back.”
He is planning to devote a portion of the profits from his upcoming clothing line to the D.A.R.E program, which teaches school children about avoiding drug abuse.
“I want the community to thrive off the business as well as the business to thrive off of the community,” McKeever said.
Columbia was one of the best places for Arrognt Empire to thrive. With a campus full of resources, such as professors and students, McKeever said Columbia is a great place to start a business.
McKeever plans to keep his business local as long as possible. He also wants to create a loyal following for the brand before getting any big investments and becoming a big brand.
“We didn’t want to become a big name brand off the bat,” McKeever said. “We wanted to gain loyalty before we did that. We wanted to find true supporters of the brand.”
Supporting local businesses, like Muse, has been one of Arrognt Empire’s objectives.
“What Arrognt Empire is, is a clothing line and a social business,” McKeever said. “We want to benefit the community at large and direct support around businesses locally.”