The Collegiate Bead Company got its start when David Schowalter wasn’t feeling his best, to put it nicely.
The Royal Oak resident was recovering from a brain tumor in 2008, teaching himself to walk and talk again, when a friend asked about finding sorority beads for the popular Pandora bracelets
. Schowalter took it upon himself to not only find it (it didn’t exist) but to go about making the bracelets.
That turned into Collegiate Bead Company
and three employees, 11 independent contractors, a few summer interns and $1.4 million in revenue. The 18-month-old company received its big break when Michigan State University and the University of Michigan decided to license out their brands so Collegiate Bead Company could make themed bracelets for them.
“That created a domino effect,” Schowalter says. “It helped us get other licenses when those two schools stepped up.”
The Royal Oak-based company has since teamed with a firm in Grand Rapids to create the collegiate-themed bracelets, ensuring they are entirely made in Michigan. Schowalter expects his firm to triple its revenue over the next year as it expands further into fashionable jewelry and starts to include pro sports teams.
Source: David Schowalter, president of Collegiate Bead Company
Writer: Jon Zemke
Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.