Not many college students can say that a book about Winston Churchill propelled them to success, but not many college students are Wade Markley and Albert Jennings.
Markley, a sophomore accounting and management information systems major at Butler University, and Jennings, a freshman at Ball State University, had planned to start a business since their high school years but never knew what they wanted the business to be and didn’t know quite how to do it.
Their inspiration came from a book about Churchill and a story about the former British prime minister just before he died.
In the story, Churchill had not moved or talked for days and many assumed him dead. Former President Dwight Eisenhower came to visit him in his very last minutes, when Churchill mustered enough strength to make a “V for victory” sign—or what most people today would recognize as a peace sign.
Thus V for Victory, or Victory Apparel LLC—their official title—the clothing line for a cause, was started. A simple idea, selling clothes to raise money for charities.
“The story inspired both of us,” Markley said. “We took that idea, modernized it and made it into our own movement and brand. Our logo is very unique and we believe that working with both that and with charities on most of the product that we sell, we can make a difference in this world.”
Jennings said the business was almost instantaneous since the idea’s conception July 1st.
“Wade and I had breakfast just talking about ideas and possibilities,” Jennings said. “As we talked, we realized that it would be very possible to get something started. About 28 days later we had our product in hand.”
Markley and Jennings both said everything went perfectly according to plan. They sold their first shirts through hand-to-hand business, selling 200 in the first two weeks.
The design is neither Markley nor Jennings’—Jennings’ friend Adrien Williams made the design after listening to Jennings’ and Markley’s vision.
“We just let him get creative with it,” Markley said. “He’s very good at what he does.”
From there, V for Victory joined the Christian-based apparel company GMW Apparel, whose focus is spreading the simple message: God is My Wingman. The two founders of the company attend Indiana University.
Markley’s childhood neighbor also attends IU and managed to establish contact between the two businesses.
“GMW actually sought us out, and they were very excited about bringing us on board with them,” Jennings said. “Negotiations were very smooth, mainly because it was a win-win for both parties.”
Currently, Jennings and Markley are pushing their Christmas shirt, which will have a portion of the proceeds donated to a family that V for Victory is sponsoring.
The family will be one that will not be able to fund their Christmas this year. V for Victory is finding a family through the Lifeline Youth & Family Services, based in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The shirt has the same “V” sign as the other shirts, but this time it is part of the word “give.” The design is in red and green—appropriate Christmas colors.
The two college students said they hope to create more shirts that give back to society. Their ideas right now include shirts to raise money for breast cancer awareness and the troops.
“We both have a passion for clothing and are very competitive people,” Markley said. “We want to be victorious in everything we do, whether that’s sports, school, job or giving back to the community…We want to incorporate that fire and energy into our brand by giving customers a new, hip, competitive brand of clothing for an affordable price that also goes to good causes.”