UCF grad opens men's clothing store in Winter Park
Just around the corner from quaint Park Avenue in Winter Park sits Outfitters Ave, a men's clothing company built from scratch by UCF alumnus Jacob Zepf.
The store, created to cater to men and their varying shopping habits, is a one-stop kind of shop. Outfitters Ave seeks to send guys out into the world prepared with clothes, shoes and accessories without breaking the bank.
“Our main goal is to get the student in here who doesn’t have ‘Park Avenue’ money but still wants to look good in some new clothes,” Zepf said. “That’s where we get the motto ‘Off The Ave.'”
The new shop is an offshoot of Outfitters Company, an exclusive online men’s clothing store created by Zepf in 2014 after discovering he was unsatisfied with his shopping options.
Following several discussions with his brother, Zepf took to developing a business plan, raising money and pitching to investors to make his idea a full-fledged reality. The class of 2014 grad put in his two-weeks notice at the marketing firm where he worked and devoted himself completely to Outfitters Co. and Outfitters Ave.
“From filing the corporation paperwork with the state of Florida to posting pictures on Instagram, I’ve done it all since the very beginning,” he said. “When you touch every part of a company like that, it becomes more than just a business. Outfitters is just a part of who I am now.”
The Winter Park storefront opened its doors in late December 2015. Since then, Zepf’s been in the shop seven days a week, handling everything from customer service to online orders. Between organizing the shop and the products and answering emails, his days revolve around his business and his customers.
“The type of guys coming in the store really varies,” Zepf said. “Midday, we’ll get the young professional on his work break; before we close, we’ll get students who just finished classes, and on weekends, we’ll get couples who decided to come over after the farmer’s market.”
Zepf said the majority of the traffic comes from the company’s Instagram, but the store’s prime location on one of the busiest streets in Orlando contributes to a high number of walk-ins.
“I couldn’t even guess how many cars drive by each day that see our awning, the A-frame on the sidewalk and the window displays,” he said. “Every person that walks through the door is an opportunity to create a lifelong customer and a new connection to the community that has supported me thus far.”
Outfitters isn’t the only business Zepf has his hands in, though. After locking up the shop each night, he heads to the warehouse of The Social Guerillas, a custom apparel printing business Zepf started with several friends.
Between handling emails and orders for both companies during the day and printing T-shirts until the early hours of the morning, Zepf has his hands full — but he’s not complaining.
“If I’m not working hard, I’m not moving forward, so I really don’t mind the long hours and the late nights,” Zepf said.
In fact, entrepreneurial blood runs in the Zepf family. Early in his UCF career, Zepf and his brother Nicholas became involved in the startup clothing company Embrace the Culture, which led Zepf to his current business ventures.
As an investor in his son’s endeavors and a businessman himself, his father, Steve Zepf, also serves as a mentor for the young entrepreneur.
“I try to teach him that in business, you come up with a solid plan and you execute on it, ” Steve Zepf said, sharing what advice he passes to his son.
Steve Zepf believes it’s Jacob’s work ethic and commitment that make him a successful entrepreneur.
“He doesn’t want a traditional job. He wants to try and determine his own destiny instead of working for other people,” Steve Zepf proudly observed of his son. “He’s willing to do just about anything it takes to be successful.”
As his businesses grow, Zepf seeks to grow as well. With plans to start UCF’s new PMBA program in May, the entrepreneur hopes to bring even more of what he learns in the classroom into his work.
Zepf also anticipates bringing on a UCF student as an intern in the fall, bringing a close to the circle that began when he got his start in business through a marketing internship.
Outfitters Ave is located at 129 W. Fairbanks Ave. It offers 15 percent off to all college and high school students in Central Florida.
Rosie Reitze is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @rosie_ucf or email her at RosieR@centralfloridafuture.com.