It is one thing for someone to perform as a successful entrepreneur after graduating from business school, but quite another to achieve success while still an undergraduate student. But Sacred Heart University junior Paul Guarino is one such success story.
In the summer of 2011, Guarino, who is double-majoring in marketing and sport management, launched the PG Sports apparel brand, which early in its second year is exceeding sales expectations and is being worn by several national sports personalities.
Incidentally, Guarino, a lifelong resident of West Haven, did not even plan this success — his ultimate goal is to own a sports agency. He says he began making the shirts on a whim. Then as sales and endorsements started rolling in, it made sense to take action to grow the business.
“The success of this feels good,” he said. “I wasn’t really expecting much, but it happened, so it’s kind of cool.”
Guarino’s ultimate aim is still to be an agent, but he is open to moving that target.
“I have an end goal in mind, but I’m willing to change that based on where the business brings me and where I see the most growth potential,” he said.
Guarino has steered every aspect of the brand, from building PG Sports’ websites and Twitter presence and hiring a designer to create the logo to contracting production and securing athletes to wear shirts and hats. Some who have worn the brand include Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, former Yankees second baseman Chuck Knoblauch, Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson and to Brooklyn Nets guard MarShon Brooks and center Brook Lopez.
PG Sports’ most successful venture was this fall’s release of a breast cancer awareness shirt, a long-sleeved black tee featuring a white and pink design. A promise that 20% of proceeds would be donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure helped the shirts sell out in less than two weeks and resulted in a $250 donation.
Count one of Guarino’s former professors as one of his biggest fans.
“We expect to see our students do well in the classroom, but to see a student taking the initiative to start being an entrepreneur is pretty impressive,” said Dr. Russell Engel, an assistant professor in Sacred Heart’s department of economics and finance who taught Guarino in his Principles of Economics course last semester. “Most of the business professors didn’t even know he’s been doing this, but now we’re all impressed with the level of effort he’s putting in, as well as with the outcomes.”