Ezekiel MacMillan is the embodiment of the Entrepreneurial Mindset, a change maker in the world of Student Small Business Ownership. After visiting clothing store, after clothing store, and leaving empty handed, MacMillan realized that he could not only create his own clothing line, but do it cooler and cheaper. Thus he fearlessly created a line that is representative of the personal style and local values of area youth, a consistently underserved market.
Don Raven Clothing Co launched early 2015, in Fort Mills, SC in true brick-and-click fashion with a strong ecommerce site and a team of nearly a dozen teenagers helping with everything from design to modeling to photography. The product line is designed, managed, and printed in the USA.
According to MacMillan, “It’s a clothing company for people with a love for creativity, style, and the outdoors.”
Marked by the signature Don Raven Antlers, a symbol of nobility yet also one of power and untamed beauty; his pieces are a combination of art and ability. His work is a different take on southern style with a high attention to detail.
“When I see antlers, it is a symbol of strength and beauty found naturally,” he said, “Sort of like nature’s crown.”
In some ways, MacMillan is a typical teenager who loves music, movies, writing, skateboarding, snowboarding, and hiking. But what makes him different is that he takes each of these interests a step further. He doesn’t just listen to music, he writes it and plays it. He doesn’t just watch movies, he writes them.
“When I see something well done, I want to do it myself,” he explains. “It’s not enough just to enjoy someone else’s work.”
The trick to MacMillan is learning how to balance all that he wants to accomplish.
Post launch, MacMillan and his family moved to the mountains of Western North Carolina. Looking to stabilize and grow his venture in his new market environment, he contacted the Small Business Center at Haywood Community College.
“Katy (HCC Small Business Center Director) helped me nail down the steps to get my business where I want it to be,” he says. “She encouraged me to define the brand and the demographic of my customer. She also helped me with the financial side.”
MacMillan explains that Don Raven puts a heavy emphasis on community. “I like to hear people’s good and bad experiences with jobs. It makes me want to be successful as an entrepreneur so I can be able to help people have solid jobs. I want to help the people involved with my company from those who make the shirts to the customers who wear them.”
As a result, MacMillan donates 10% of the profit to local charities. From wildlife to nature preservation to helping those in need, he strives to make a difference.
This home-schooled dual enrollment student will graduate with an Associate in Science Degree, Associate in Arts Degree, and a certificate in Business in Spring of 2017. After finishing HCC, he plans to continue his education to get degrees in Industrial Design and Film.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Ezekiel and to watch his fledgling business soar,” said Katy Gould, Director of HCC’s Small Business Center. “From pricing to financial projections to the creation and implementation of a grassroots marketing campaign to promote the launch of his spring line, Ezekiel has shown relentless drive and persistence in taking his company to the next level. All while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.”
According to Gould, MacMillan is an entrepreneur at heart and his quest for knowledge contagious. “He is an excellent representative of Haywood Community College and the vibrant business community within our county. His creativity, opportunity recognition and entrepreneurial skill are exemplified in all aspects of his business, studies and community engagement.”
“My dream for this business is for it to grow to be an iconic brand of southern Appalachia,” MacMillan says.
With a new distribution contract and a few pop up shops under his belt, MacMillan is living his American dream as the owner of a budding clothing company. A small company with an idea that has become reality. A perfect balance of creativity, simplicity, style, cost, and comfort.
Don Raven Clothing Company may be found online via DonRaven.com and is now available for purchase in the Highland Hiker.
Donated photo. Ezekiel MacMillan is the embodiment of the Entrepreneurial Mindset, a change maker in the world of Student Small Business Ownership. He launched the Don Raven Clothing Co in early 2015.