NORTH ADAMS — You've worn the T-shirt. You've poured coffee into the travel mug. Now you can complete your NAMApparel collection with a cap, beanie, or bandana thanks to the students of the E3 Academy.
In the unveiling of a line of new apparel promoting the city of North Adams on Thursday, the 2016 students at the E3 Academy continued a tradition that now dates back to 2014.
The E3 Academy — an alternative, project-based learning program for at-risk high school students based in the city's Windsor Mill on Union Street — sees the production and marketing of the clothing line as a combination of academics and real-life experience.
The product line kicked off with T-shirts and sweatshirts in 2014, added travel mugs in 2015, and now includes headwear all featuring the NAMApparel logo and slogan, "Find It, Love It." The apparel can be purchased at Berkshire Emporium and Antiques on Main Street, with proceedings funneled directly back into the E3 program.
The students, when asked what they learn from the project, are quick to provide a stream of answers ranging from how to use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to how to create a business plan. They have to understand the manufacturing costs of the hats and what price point the headwear needs to be sold at in order to generate enough revenue.
"We've just broken even, which was the full intent," said teacher Cathleen King. "We're not actually making money, per se. Our whole goal was to make enough to provide more products for sale."
To promote their products, the students filmed an advertisement highlighting numerous city assets, including Natural Bridge State Park, the Mohawk Theater, and Western Gateway Heritage State Park. The spot will run on Northern Berkshire Community Television and Drury High School's DTV.
"We're about to be famous," joked student Alyah Hartman.
As in previous years, the 2016 cohort of students also did market research into the demand for NAMApparel and found interest in the headwear. The target market includes proud North Adams residents and tourists. The goal of the class is to eventually generate enough revenue that it won't need any outside financial assistance.
"The fact that you can make a business plan, you are one in millions," said Ricco Fruscio of the North Adams Chamber of Commerce. "Many successful people exhibit exactly what you are doing."
More information about the clothing line can be found at its Facebook Page, NAMApparel by E3. The group is also now in Instagram and is in the process of creating a website.
Contact Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376.