In just a few short weeks, one of the most entertaining, competitive and exciting times of the year will be upon us: college football season.
While avid alumni and local fans anticipate the start of the season on Aug. 24 by planning for pregame cookouts, many college students prepare by crafting attire for tailgates—think fringed tanks and bleached sweatshirts—which are then sold on Instagram.
Caroline DeMarco, a Reston native who graduated from Oakton High School in Vienna earlier this year, has recently tapped into this trend (about a month before starting her very first year of at Virginia Tech University). But DeMarco has taken a different approach to the industry thriving on social media, in that she hand-paints designs on denim jackets, creating tailgate staples for the cooler months.
“I’ve always liked art and painting but I didn’t really have one thing I worked on and I thought this would be fun,” says DeMarco of her craft. “I saw the idea online for other schools but there weren’t many for Virginia Tech, so I made my own and then from there other people started to get interested.”
While DeMarco made her first jacket a little over a month ago, she has already received 40 orders through direct messaging on her Instagram account, @denim_by_caro, as well as text messages from local students in the Northern Virginia region.
Here’s how it works: Consumers submit a picture of the logo they want and then DeMarco sketches the design using chalk, followed by a textile medium mixed with paint, allowing it to be machine washable. Each jacket takes about four to five hours to complete depending on the design, and DeMarco charges $30 if the buyer sends their own jacket or $60 if they want DeMarco to buy it as the design’s base.
“I’ve made jackets mostly for Virginia-based schools, but people are hearing about it through friends so I’ve also made some for UCLA, Clemson and other schools,” says DeMarco.
While she is leaving NoVA in about two weeks with plans to start a pre-veterinary track, DeMarco will be continuing her business as a student at Virginia Tech. Plus, DeMarco and her future roommate are considering expanding the designs to DIY T-shirts this fall, giving followers the chance to try out the art themselves.
As others ask DeMarco for help showing their university pride, DeMarco is more than ready to experience tailgate season for the first time as a college student.
“I will definitely be wearing the jacket I made for myself all the time,” says DeMarco. “It’s easy to layer once it gets colder with a sweatshirt and a cute pair of jeans. You can really wear it with anything.”
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