5 Questions: OverTheFly's Andre Najmolhoda and Andrew Jacob
High school seniors marketing their versatile, colorful belts at numerous local retailers.
If you happen to notice high schoolers' fashion choices during this back to school shopping season tend to lean towards bright colors in the belt area, you will soon why.
Two West Bloomfield High School seniors, Andre Najmolhoda and Andrew Jacob, began marketing their Astro Belt, a key product of the business they started together called OverTheFly, earlier this year and they have not slowed down.
1. Are one or both of you particularly interested in fashion accessories? If not, is this more of a school project?
Andre: Surprisingly, the only connection that the Astro Belt has with school is that Andrew and I came up with the idea while studying for English class together.
I’ve always been into fashion and staying up-to-date on the latest trends, but on the other hand, Andrew has had a strong passion for business since he started middle school. During one of our study sessions, Andrew told me about his plastic travel accessory business that he started in eighth grade and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. The idea of starting a business had never even crossed my mind, but I knew right away that I wanted to pursue a business venture with Andrew.
From this point on, Andrew and I began to collaborate to come up with an exciting idea to start working on. By combining our passions, we decided that we wanted to start a fashion-related business. However, we didn’t want to be another t-shirt or snapback hat company; we wanted to break away from the mold.
Belts were the only accessories that neither of us had seen as a major fad before. With that in mind, Andrew and I tried finding a way to make belts the next hot item. After a lot of time spent searching and sampling, we found a manufacturer that could produce the exact item that we envisioned, the Astro Belt.
2. I've noted the retailers and nonprofit organizations you work with. I'm sure you've met them either in a business setting or at the charitable events you mentioned. Have you met the people behind these organizers in any capacity and if so, how did that make you feel?
Andre: At the moment, the stores that carry OverTheFly are Pogo Skate Shop, Guys N Gals, Rear Ends, and People Skate and Snow. Andrew and I have had the opportunity to meet with the owners of all of these retailers. The feeling of going from shopping at your favorite stores to selling them your product is something that neither of us can describe. Both of us are truly grateful to have had these opportunities and it’s an amazing learning experience in entrepreneurship.
Now that we know what it’s like to manage our product in local retailers, we’re ready to expand to stores across the country. As for charitable events, we’ve had the chance to raise money for the American Cancer Society, West Bloomfield High School Athletic Department, BBYO, Michigan Veterans Foundation, and Light of the World Charities. With the support of our community, we’ve been able to donate to these organizations through the sales of our Astro Belts. It’s awesome that we’re able to do good business and good in the community at the same time.
3. Could you share your hopes for a future course of study, or a university/college you'd like to attend, a career path, or simply something you'd like to pursue while still in high school?
Andre: Andrew and I are both going into our senior year, so now is the time for us to apply to colleges. I’ve always been interested in science, but OverTheFly has persuaded me to pursue a future in business. Also, I’ve had a passion for acting since I was young and I hope to follow through with it later in life.
Andrew plans on following a similar course of study. He has a knack for business that he obtained by watching his father run his own company. As well as studying business, Andrew aspires to continue swimming competitively. While working diligently on OverTheFly, both of us realize that education is our main priority and we plan on receiving a degree from a respected university.
4. What's so special about the Astro Belt?
Andre: The beauty of the Astro Belt is that hundreds of color combinations can be made, making the product always new and exciting. Astro Belts come in over 20 colors and the belts/buckles can be interchanged. Also, each belt can be cut to any size under 44 inches. Astro Belts are unisex, 100 percent recycled, waterproof, and animal-friendly.
5. How does your work with the community play a role in business?
Andre: Once in a while, we release a limited edition belt that we call OTF+, OverTheFly plus a purpose. Each belt is designated to a specific charity to which a percentage of the respective proceeds are donated. Our first limited edition belt was the camouflage belt, which benefited the Michigan Veterans Foundation. Currently, we have glow-in-the-dark belts for sale on our website (overthefly.com) which aid the Light of the World Charities.