Hats Off to This Navajo, ASU Student Who Designs Customized Street Wear
Name: Cameron Benally, 19
Title: Creator and Owner of Profound Product
Product: Customized baseball caps and T-shirts
How long in business: Since August 2012
Advice for other business owners: “If you can think of it, I’m sure there is a way to do it. Once you can figure out the steps involved, then you can figure out how to finish the product and start up a business.”
Last August, Cameron Benally, a Navajo native from Mesa, Arizona, became inspired by a moment of sheer boredom. The 19-year-old sophomore at Arizona State University had nothing to do one hot summer day, so he grabbed some scissors, fabric and a hat, and stitched together a business.
“I started seeing people wearing more and more of these hats with prints on the brim, so I figured out how to do it and kind of perfected the method,” explains Benally, the founder of Profound Product, a one-man street-wear operation that jazzes up hat brims and makes T-shirt pockets from an assortment of eye-catching fabrics, like tribal and animal prints.
Since that serendipitous day more than a year ago, Benally is filling orders for about eight custom hats and T-shirts a week that he sells online through social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram (@ProfoundProduct), as well as through word-of-mouth. Hats range in price from $10 to $60, and Benally charges a flat $18 for his T-shirts. His best seller is the black t-shirt with the Navajo rug print.
His roster of clients spans the globe—from California to New York, Massachusetts, Florida, and even as far away as France. “I’m also starting to get orders from the Navajo reservation, so that’s pretty cool.”
The real beauty of Benally’s start-up business is that he didn’t have to invest much money at all. “The original investment was very small. …and now I’m making a pretty good amount.” Benally would not disclose specific numbers, but he did say that profits go back into the business and help supplement scholarships he’s been awarded toward a degree in digital culture and media processing.
The young entrepreneur likes to sew, he says, because it’s relaxing. He first learned how to run a sewing machine when he was in middle school, but then forgot how to use it. “So my grandmother taught me how to sew again.”
In fact, Benally’s entire family is very supportive of his dreams and goals. “My dad really helped me out because he wants me to succeed.” His father, Dino Benally, actually started a sportswear store on the Navajo reservation many years ago, but the business didn’t pan out. “He’s happy seeing me doing what he wanted to do and be able to go farther with it.”
While Benally is proud of what he has achieved in only one year—“I really didn’t think it would go this far”—he has even bigger dreams. “I hope it becomes a really big clothing brand someday. I’d love to see my stuff being sold in stores across the country.”