• Sun. May 19th, 2024

College-Age Twin Brothers Start Online Clothing Business Focused on ‘Agape’| National Catholic Register

Within two weeks of dreaming up the idea for a Catholic clothing company, Gabe Jones had designed apparel, filed for and was granted LLC status, and launched Agape Apparel. 

By the time the first order shipped, Jones knew that God’s hand guided the successful launch, a theme that he has continued to see as the business has grown over the past year. 

“Somehow, through the grace of God, we got our LLC, our EIN number the night before our drop. And so, we were able to receive payments from other people,” Jones, now 20, told the Register. “It all worked really smoothly, and it was a lot of the work of the Holy Spirit.” 

A few months into the endeavor, Gabe’s twin brother, Nate, also a sophomore at Benedictine, joined his brother in building the Agape brand. Since then, the two have been on a quest to create a brand dedicating to igniting conversations about authentic love. 

“What I’ve seen is that people come up to somebody wearing our clothing and ask, ‘What is agape?’” said Nate. “A person wearing our clothing is evangelizing because it begins this conversation about agape love and Christ’s love for us; and, often, it then connects to the Catholic faith. This brand is all about being a conversation starter.”

The brand name, Agape, speaks to the brother’s mission.

They hope those who wear the brand will learn to not just share the Good News of Christ and agape love, but live out the word, to live with unconditional love. 

Agape is meant to be more than simply just living a different lifestyle or wearing cool clothing. It’s supposed to be about helping others, living with sacrificial love,” Nate said. “It’s supposed to draw others towards the Lord, towards this experience of beauty within their life, and to help them find joy and fulfillment within their life in a way that they wouldn’t otherwise.”

Those who have purchased clothing can testify to the influence a sweatshirt can have. Luke Biggar, a sophomore at Benedictine, shared that his Agape hoodie has sparked many fruitful conversations. 

“The thing I like most about Agape is that it incorporates my faith into my everyday life,” Biggar said. “When I was getting an MRI over Christmas break, a lady asked me about the hoodie, and so I told her about Agape and what the word means, and she really liked it. It’s a good tool for passive evangelization.” 

The message of agape love, though, is not just for the consumers; it is also for the producers. The brothers shared that running the company has taught them many lessons, especially how to live that sacrificial love.  

“Running this company has reminded me that love is a sacrifice, and every time that I have to sacrifice something or do something for another person or for the company, that is a form of love,” Gabe said. “Starting and running Agape has been a very intentional and continual lesson about love.” 

As college students, this lesson in love has proven useful in discerning how to balance their school, work and social responsibilities. 

“One of the challenges is balancing work life, school and having a social life and everything else,” Nate said. “But definitely one of the joys is seeing how Agape impacts people’s lives and even my life.” 

But the path has not always been smooth. Initially, many of the sales came from Benedictine students and other people in the local area. By last summer, the Jones twins had lost steam and put a pause on new releases. 

Last fall, they felt inspired to begin a new push to expand and grow the company. 

By investing in their social media, creating new products, and working on a dynamic marketing strategy, the company has begun to grow rapidly. In the past three months, their Instagram page has grown quickly, with the page gaining around 6,000 new followers.

“In January, we started being more consistent with posting on Instagram, and it started to drive a lot of people towards our Instagram,” Gabe said. “It really made me realize that this company is not just an idea that I have and I’m kind of doing, but it’s an actual brand that people subscribe to and actually believe in.”

Even though their business has an LLC and must file taxes, as well as focus on logistics such as customer service and shipping, the two brothers remember to have fun with the company, enjoying their time as college entrepreneurs.  

A repeated highlight for both brothers is the regular photoshoots they conduct, where they invite friends to come and model the clothing.

“Originally, the photoshoots were stressful, but the more we’ve been doing them, the more fun it is,” Gabe said. “The last photoshoot we had was probably one of the highlights of Agape because we were just having fun and loving life as we took the photos.”

Agape photoshoot
Friends (L to R: Lucia Smith, Monica Stokman and Gabe Schmitz) have fun while wearing Agape sweatshirts.(Photo: GABE FUERTE; courtesy of Gabe and Nate Jones )BirdingByEar.com

What brings the brother’s lasting joy is hearing how their brand is impacting other people’s lives and seeing fellow students wear their products around campus. 

“Seeing other people wear and live out the message of Agape and talk about it has been really cool,” Nate said. “Overhearing conversations and hearing stories of how the conversations that our sweatshirts have started is really powerful.” 

While they have a solid base, the twins are not done growing their business. They hope to continue rolling out new designs once a month and reach 100,000 followers on Instagram by the end of the year. 

But they realize that the success of their business is not in their hands; it is in God’s hands — as it has been since Day One. 

“This entire business has just been left up to God’s will. He has been guiding it,” Gabe said. “If he wills us to keep going after college, I would absolutely love it. It’s been so fun. Moving forward, though, we are just letting God steer the bike while we do the pedaling.”

Prayer and devotion are the center of the twins’ business strategy. They both have a personal devotion to Mary and recently consecrated the business to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, placing the future of the company in the Lord’s hands.

“Consecrating the business to the Sacred Heart of Jesus has given us the opportunity to surrender everything about the company to the Lord,” Nate said. “When it is put on our hearts to do something counter to what people would expect us to do, we are guided by the Sacred Heart and our own Marian consecrations to trust the Lord in a different way, knowing that it is his will.”


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