Meet today’s Monday Motivator, U Miami and Wake Forest Law School grad and Gameday Bae founder, Erin Benson. With fabulous looks for Baes and Bros(!) and an ability to customize any message you want, this former UM Sunsations captain is rocking this space. Be sure to check it out at gamedaybae.com and on Instagram @gamedaybae for your perfect holiday gifts!
Tell us about Gameday Bae. What do you think makes your product line stand out?
Gameday Bae is an online clothing boutique specializing in collegiate game day apparel, trending fashion and accessories. Not only do we provide ready-to-wear collegiate apparel, we also have a customization feature on our website, which allows our clients to create their own message on any garment we offer. Our is motto is: Your School. Your Way. Anything You Want to Say! Some stand out features of our line include our pride in offering high quality clothing made in the USA, beautiful and unique designs for both men and women, affordable pricing, and great customer service. We are committed to giving our customers what they want so they always feel and look their best.
What was your inspiration for founding Gameday Bae?
My inspiration for founding Gameday Bae happened during my sophomore year of college. I have always been passionate about fashion and when I looked for spirit clothing representative of my taste, I could find nothing of interest to me on the market. I always said to myself someone should come up with a clothing company that caters to fashionable women that don’t want to wear men’s t-shirts or the boring tops you would find in a bookstore. As a collegiate cheerleader, I had adorable uniforms to wear and was inspired to come up with a line that would mirror the way I felt when I was dressed in our gorgeous uniforms. I wanted women to feel confident, happy and to stand out from the crowd and what better way to do that then to combine two of my passions, sports and fashion, into one company. Our new Bro’s line was created for similar purposes. Guys want to wear unique clothing without excessive messaging and frill on game day. They also want shirts they can wear around town that don’t look like your stereotypical t-shirt. We made sure to offer the same great style and quality to our Bro’s that we offer to our Bae’s. Our Bae’s and Bro’s can also match each other with some of our unisex pieces.
Creating the name of my company was hard! It took me over a year of toying with potential options to finally come up with the one I thought would hit the mark for me. I wanted the name of my company to create an identity for the women wearing my clothing. Women who wear my clothing are confident, stylish and have fun with fashion. I wanted the name to be completely unique and trendy. When I decided to execute on my idea, the word “bae”, which is an acronym that means “before anyone else” (definition a la Urban Dictionary), had become super popular. Bae is also a term that is used interchangeably with the words “baby” and “babe”, so I thought Gameday Bae would be a great name. The name also reflects our clothing line’s swagger. I call my customers my Gameday Baes- it’s a term of endearment and is certainly how I feel about my clients!
We noticed you have a Bro’s line. That’s definitely different! How is it going?
We just came out with a Bro’s line about a month ago. It is doing very well! My Bro’s line was inspired by my brothers- Brett is a student at the University of Miami and Blake is a senior in high school. They both have amazing style and taste in clothing and I thought to myself, why don’t I create looks that would cater to men? I think the fact that my brand does cater to both women and men is a differentiating factor that makes my company unique. Many of our Gameday Baes love the fact that they can now match their significant other or guy friends on game day or any day. The men’s pieces are so yummy and beyond comfortable, I started carrying them in unisex styles because I found myself wanting to keep one of each style for myself!
You knew you had a good idea. Did you have to convince anyone else in order to launch? How did you do it?
For me it wasn’t so much about convincing anyone else. The people that I continuously talked to about the concept from the start were in love with the idea and were excited to see where I would take it and when. It was more about presenting a viable business plan and marketing strategy than anything. Doing so required a lot of research and fine tuning along the way. I had my initial thought of creating a company like this during my sophomore year of college and I just graduated with my Masters in August of this year, which shows how much time and thought needs to go into launching a business. For me now, my company has become a 24/7 pursuit of perfection. I constantly have my phone and/ or computer on me, I never stop thinking about what I want to do with my company and where I want to go with it and because of that, it has exceeded my expectations tremendously. Retail is an industry that can be extremely hard to get into and do well in, which is why a lot of preparation was critical into executing my idea. Having your own business is a labor of love and a constant learning experience. It requires a ton of time, effort and sacrifice but it is all worth it when your customers reach out to you to let you know how much they love the pieces they have ordered and repeatedly purchase from you.
You were really involved at the University of Miami. What do you think you learned outside of the classroom that prepared you to be an entrepreneur?
Yes-I was super involved at UM and I loved every minute of my experience going to my dream school! While attaining my Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics with a double minor in Business Law and Business Administration from the University of Miami, I was the captain of the UM Sunsations Dance Team. My team and I performed at all home football games and men’s and women’s basketball games and tournament appearances. I was a sister of Delta Gamma Fraternity and I interned in the University of Miami Football Operations Office for three years. I was also a Pilot Program Member in the Professional Development Academy at UM’s Toppel Career Center. As you can imagine, my schedule was very hectic-I had a lot of events, games and activities to attend to on behalf of the school in addition to my classes and social events. Because of that, I learned so many things that prepared me to be an entrepreneur.
Dancing in front of 50,000 people at Hard Rock Stadium taught me how to be fearless and confident in myself. My team and I always engaged with fans, staff and members of media. We were taught how to always be on point and poised, to look our best, and to smile and have fun no matter what. I learned how to speak and present my ideas in front of people. I learned about marketing and the importance of social media usage. I mastered time management skills and I learned how to prioritize my tasks. I learned to set achievable goals for myself and to reach for those that would appear to be unattainable, because if you work hard enough you achieve anything. I learned that you must believe in yourself, fight through the challenges or roadblocks that stand in your way and appreciate and love the people in your life that support you. Most importantly, you must know the power of YOU.
You went to law school after graduation and then founded Gameday Bae. Was that your plan, or did you come to the realization that this was your passion while in law school?
I knew I wanted to start my own line when I was in undergrad at UM. Because I was so involved in school, the timing would not have been right to do so. Going to obtain a graduate degree right after I finished undergrad was always part of my plan. I ended up receiving a Merit Scholarship to attend Wake Forest University School of Law last year and I completed my Masters of Studies in Law degree in August 2016. While I was away at school, I strategized about the business in my free time when I was by myself. It was a great creative outlet for me. Half way through graduate school I decided to launch my business, so I began putting the steps in place for me to do so. There were so many things I had learned while attaining my Masters that continue to help me as my business develops. I think my education is a crucial factor that I am thankful for that has allowed me to accomplish what I have at the age of 24.
Do you have a campus rep program?
Yes-but it’s not a traditional one! Our campus rep program is Instagram. Our Baes from different campuses that wear our gear tag us in the photos that they put on their personal Instagrams and in return we put them on our social media and web page. We want to show our gorgeous customers off having fun and enjoying themselves in our clothing and we wouldn’t have it any other way!
Three words – what are the keys to success?
Motivation, self-confidence, perseverance
Favorite quote that inspires, motivates or empowers you?
“The world is your oyster.”- My mom 🙂