Franklin & Poe co-founders Chris Caquelin (left) and Andrew Li, Global MBA ’16
In January, Fox Management Consulting (Fox MC) caught up with recent Fox graduate, Andrew Li, Global MBA ’16, in Philly’s up-and-coming Fishtown neighborhood to learn about his new venture as co-founder of the clothing company, Franklin & Poe.
Li, who began his career as an analyst with the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), met his current business partner while traveling for work, and discovered that they had a shared interest in clothing design. More significantly, however, was that the duo was invested in developing more American-made clothing companies in the U.S., a current void in the fashion industry. Together, they came up with the idea to create Franklin & Poe, a clothing company that promotes and supports American manufacturing, craftsmanship, and jobs.
“We strive to create high-quality clothing that ensures fair wages with our partners, facilitate discussions about where products come from and how they are made, and integrate ourselves in our community,” Li said.
While he and his business partner aspired to start the business while he was working for the DOD, Franklin & Poe remained a dream until Li attended Temple University’s Fox School of Business (Fox) with a concentration in entrepreneurship. Li additionally attributes his ability to launch Franklin & Poe to the Fox Management Consulting (Fox MC) capstone course, a required applied learning experience in which students work in teams to provide research and recommendations to fee-paying clients.
“The consulting project helped me understand the critical factors to making a commercial corridor successful, including retail density, access to public transportation, safety, beautification, and much more,” Li said. He also spoke to his increased ability to focus on customer needs and create and deliver the right message to target segments as a result of the Capstone course.
Upon reflecting on his business journey, Li described it as challenging, but a challenge for which he is prepared. He emphasized the importance of understanding all aspects of the businesses for it to reach its full potential. He and his partner are in the process of perfecting the necessary business fundamentals, such as proper marketing, to attract the right customers to their unique business. He offered some words of wisdom to hopeful entrepreneurs enrolled in the Fox GMBA Program.
“When you know what you want to do [for a career], apply that to the courses that you take. For me, it was more helpful to think about my business idea while learning the concepts being taught. Take advantage of the resources available,” he said.
So, what’s next for Li and his budding company? Li plans to bring in more American brands, continue to promote local craftsmen, and develop his own line of clothing that will be manufactured by as many locals as possible. He and his co-founder have also embarked on a t-shirt series project designed to support the local community. All shirt proceeds will be given to one public school charity.
“We both live in cities [Philadelphia and Baltimore, respectively] and have young children,” Li said. “It is paramount to us to help strengthen the quality of our public schools to encourage young families to want to stay in cities, not be forced to move, and help other families that don’t have a choice of schools.”
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