Bleaching, ripping and studding don’t sound like typical activities for an Emory student. But instead of having textbooks and term papers strewn across their dorm room floors, College sophomores Emily McCutcheon and Aryn Weinstein prefer scissors, clothing dye and a pile of thrift store shirts and jean shorts that, to some, seem excessive.
McCutcheon, who is double majoring in political science and history, and Weinstein, who plans on entering the Business School, turned an apparel crafting hobby into an online design company last year when they launched their clothing line “zero f’s given.”
The idea started as a Facebook group between McCutcheon, Weinstein and a few friends who would post Do-It-Yourself (DIY) ideas and crafts they’d done themselves or just found on the Internet.
“I guess this summer we kind of figured out we could make money off of it,” McCutcheon said. “We had too many clothes to begin with, so we thought it’d be nice to get rid of some of them.”
The line expanded in June 2012 from Facebook to Etsy, an e-commerce website that specializes in vintage and handmade items and crafts. The site has been compared to a DIY crossover between Amazon and eBay and allows sellers to list their goods on the site for a very small fee.
McCutcheon, who had always been involved with crafting, got Weinstein interested in making shorts after the two bonded over the online crafting site. During the summer, they launched “zero f’s given.” McCutcheon set up the store on Etsy and Weinstein was in charge of creating the logo. They made and sold the in-demand shorts separately from home.
The line features an array of colored, bleached, distressed, embellished and decorated jean shorts and shirts. The shorts typically run anywhere from $20 to $35 and the shirts stay at around $15.
The project is all about making shorts, not money. Any profit made goes into buying more supplies to use on the next order. McCutcheon and Weinstein insist that the line is simply a hobby-turned-Etsy-shop. It’s something they do simply because they enjoy the process.
Weinstein is responsible for naming the line “zero f’s given,” which reflects the distressed nature and look of effortless fashion the clothes exude. The lack of capitalization is significant to the goal of the brand: chic, yet carefree.
“I mean, that’s kind of the epitome of ‘zero f’s given,'” she joked. “We can’t even be bothered to capitalize it.”
For two girls who presumably have zero f’s to give, McCutcheon claimed they get a decent amount of orders, more so for their shirts than their shorts.
Shorts are more difficult to sell on the Internet because sizing varies over the different brands of shorts used. McCutcheon and Weinstein approached the problem by offering a “custom sizing” option on their more popular shorts; buyers can purchase some shorts in display sizes or send in their pant size and inseam measurements and have the item shipped to them, allowing five days for production.
An interesting finding courtesy of “zero f’s given”: alcohol sells.
Any time she goes to a thrift store to buy items to work with, McCutcheon said she grabs any alcohol shirts she sees because a blouse with booze sells. The line had a Coors Light shirt that sold within just two days of being posted.
The line has some other very popular items. The biggest seller of the summer was their smiley face shorts. The neon-colored shorts feature varying smiley and winky faces on the back. High-waisted Aztec print jean shorts are also a great seller for the brand, according to McCutheon.
When asked if the line took any points of inspiration from the popular fashion industry, McCutcheon said that she saw “zero f’s given” as a combination of LF, Urban Outfitters and Free People.
Each pair of shorts is a bit different, depending on the designer. McCutcheon and Weinstein insist that their personal styles differ and this is reflected in their designs.
“Aryn [Weinstein] is more earthy,” said McCutcheon. “I’m more sleek.”
Though admittedly not a big fan of nature, Weinstein agreed that her shorts had a bit more of a natural vibe.
“Your stuff is definitely edgier than mine,” she said to McCutcheon.
Though the founders of “zero f’s given” have been rather successful online, they don’t believe that their shorts are something the everyday person tends to wear.
“I think it’s because where we both grew up, fashion and stuff like that is not the typical thing,” McCutcheon said. “People that I knew didn’t wear this, people that I went to high school with didn’t wear this, so I think we like that we get to make or wear whatever we want. It’s nice to be like, ‘Oh, I made those’ when someone stops and compliments our shorts, and I think that’s what keeps inspiring us.”
Their Etsy shop description says it all: “Two college girls making shorts, it’s that simple.”
“We kind of go over the top with things sometimes,” McCutcheon said. “But if you like it, wear it.”
– By Jenna Kingsley