Q&A: Bryan Simpson of 5 Pound Apparel

Bryan Simpson, co-founder and CEO of 5 Pound Apparel, started an illegal t-shirt screenprinting company from his college beer pong room in December 2010.

Just over two years later, he now runs a socially conscious – and legal – retail store that supports 15 nonprofits. For every 5 Pound Apparel item sold, the company donates five pounds of nutritional supplement to its partner, Nepal Nutrition. Nepal Nutrition was founded by CU alumni Mark Arnoldy, who founded the CU-Boulder GlobeMed chapter. GlobeMed will present a talk with Simpson on how he successfully started 5 Pound Apparel as a college student at Missouri State University. Mar. 6 at 7:20 p.m. in ATLAS 100.

What was the inspiration to start 5 Pound Apparel?
I started 5 Pound Apparel while I was senior in college. Until that point in my life I hadn’t done my part to give back. On the way to soccer practice one day, my friends and I decided to help an old man whose car had died on the side of the road. It was a simple and insignificant act, but it was enough to inspire me to start a business with the ultimate goal of helping people every day.

Where does the name 5 Pound Apparel come from?

When we found out it was illegal to operate our screen-printing in our residential living room – long story – we took a leap of faith and opened a retail store. To continue our relationship with Mark and his work with Nepal Nutrition, we decided to donate 5 pounds of food and fortified peanut butter to NN for every shirt sold. Hence, 5 Pound Apparel.

What is 5 Pound’s mission?

To sell awesome products that benefit nonprofits locally and globally.

Why was it important to you to partner with CU Boulder’s GlobeMed program to design a limited edition shirt?

GlobeMed is an incredible organization and we’re always looking for ways that we can team up with nonprofits to raise money and awareness for their causes.Were you a member of GlobeMed in college?
I went to school in Springfield, Missouri and there unfortunately isn’t a GlobeMed chapter here. There also isn’t skiing nearby. I probably should’ve gone to Boulder.
How did you get involved with Mark Arnoldy, founder of CU’s GlobeMed chapter, and his nonprofit, Nepal Nutrition?
Mark and I go all the back to JV soccer in high school. I started a screen-printing company and wanted to use the proceeds to benefit a nonprofit. Meanwhile, Mark was doing incredible work with Nepal Nutrition, so for us it was a perfect fit.
What advice do you have for college-age entrepreneurs?
If you’re any thing like me in college you’re young, poor and inexperienced. It’s the best possible time to start a business. The worst case scenario is that you fail –  and at the end of the day you’ll still be young and poor, but the value from the experiences you’ve gained will far exceed those of your peers who take a traditional career path. “It’s much easier to educate a doer than it is to activate a thinker.”
Contact CU Independent News Budget Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.jacka@colorado.edu.
Avalon Jacka

Avalon Jacka is a senior at the University of Colorado, studying News-editorial journalism and Russian studies. She loves music and hopes to incorporate it into her career someday. When she isn’t doing homework, Jacka spends her time singing with the radio, analyzing television far too in-depth and hanging out with her friends. She has also been known to play Mortal Kombat on the PS2 and win. It is one of her greatest accomplishments to date. Contact CU Independent Entertainment Editor Avalon Jacka at Avalon.jacka@colorado.edu.

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