From the basement of his home in Gainesville, Drew Howard and his friend, Kevin Masaro, created the lifestyle apparel brand, Always True Co., to inspire others to be themselves through art.
In 2013, Howard moved from Westin to Gainesville to attend the University of Florida. He joined a fraternity where he met his friend, Kevin Masaro. Together, they worked with a sales company and sold protein shakes. After realizing their lack of passion for selling other people’s products, they thought about opening their own business.
The name “Always True” came to mind. Howard’s older brother, who passed away in 2012, used it as a stage name when he was a rapper. Howard wanted to take the message of “Always True” to a lifestyle apparel brand and make a tribute to his brother.
With a few shirts, some tie-dye and a basement, the two college students started Always True Co. in 2015. With little knowledge of the business side of things, they opened their online store and started by selling 12 shirts and 12 hats. Howard said when it came to starting their business, they accomplished small tasks to get everything organized, rather than trying to do big tasks at once.
“I feel like if you can break large, complicated concepts or things into smaller pieces you will be apt to trying to figure it out, and it will be more reasonable for you and more achievable for you.”
After Howard and Masaro graduated in 2017 with bachelor degrees in finance, they became full-time artists and businessmen.
Over the last 5 years, the lifestyle apparel brand has grown immensely. They have 5 clothing collections and continue to collaborate with other companies, artists and bands by manufacturing merchandise for them. Their style of clothing products is constantly changing by what inspires them.
After receiving inquiries to make face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic, they started making masks from recycled t-shirts and scraps from cut and sew pieces to fulfill the needs of the people of Gainesville.
They continue to use the basement as a shop showroom to organize finished products but have now moved to a two-loft room with studio space and studio lighting. They hope to soon move into a warehouse.
“I know that it’s going to be a global thing, it’s just a matter of when and how the hell we’re going to do it.”
Listen to the 109th episode of WHOA GNV podcast to hear more about the journey of how two college students used their artistic skills to start a clothing brand in a basement.