The Day – Norwich business changes name after floods and reopens in Waterford shopping center
Waterford – Just over eight months after Hurricane Ida hit Ashon Avent’s custom design and printing business with devastating flooding, his business has found a new name, a new focus and a new house.
Thanks to perseverance and resilience, Advent’s T-shirt World had its grand opening on May 14 at the Crystal Mall.
Avent originally opened the business in 2012 as Main Avent Athletics and Apparel. The September 2, 2021 hurricane had left much of its stock and equipment under 4 feet of water at Foundry 66’s Sunlight Building on Franklin Street in Norwich. At the time, the company owner and professor at Eastern Connecticut State University estimated his losses at around $30,000.
On Monday he said: “Thirty might have been a small number. I lost everything. All of our inventory… We’ve lost our regular customers’ files, and our machines have been damaged, so with that, I really can’t recover anything.
Insurance wouldn’t cover his losses, and he said help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have come in the form of a loan that was to be amortized over 30 years, so he didn’t think it would. was a feasible option.
“I said, ‘I’ll find a way to do it and I’ll do it,'” Avent said.
The business had its soft-opening in the Waterford Mall, 850 Hartford Turnpike, in late March.
“I don’t even know how I did it,” said the 42-year-old. “We had to rebrand a lot and find a way to bring more ancillary services to people… That’s why we moved from Main Advent to T-shirt World – something a little more universal. I then thought about the big picture.
Part of that included creating two personal brands, which Avent describes as forward-thinking.
“It’s not just a normal t-shirt,” he said, holding a lace-up, hockey-style long-sleeve shirt with “BLK” written in puffy letters across the front. Another example hanging in the store has the black and white rhinestone logo on a bespoke hoodie.
“BLK”, or “Bold Loyal and Kind”, was inspired by recent events.
“I thought it was in line at the time with George Floyd and everyone talking about diversity, equity and inclusion,” Avent said, referring to Floyd, who was killed by police in Minneapolis in 2020. , sparking Black Lives Matter protests across the country. “I just thought subtly, we were going to mix it all up and deliver a positive message.”
The second, “No Luck All Hustle”, is a nod to the obstacles Avent had to overcome in his life, including the devastation to his business that he still speaks fondly of. “It’s me: bad luck, it’s all rushing – that’s the definition of this one,” he said.
When asked how he dealt with the loss and the setbacks he faced, he explained, “The way I grew up in Hartford, you just find a way out. You’ve just found an alternative – to hold on, because you know a better thing is coming.
He continued, “Everyone always talks about ‘peaks and valleys’, but nobody really talks about the valleys. I think that’s how you get to the top. You stand in the valley… When you are in the valley, you become more creative; you work a little harder.
In addition to her branded merchandise, her store sells pre-printed apparel, plain t-shirts, and custom t-shirts that can be made-to-order based on her current order volume. T-shirt World also accepts wholesale orders, custom orders for corporate or fundraising purposes, offers screen printing, embroidery and sublimation printing, a process where ink is transferred directly to fabric.
Plus, it offers an online store option for other entrepreneurs, like someone who is currently doing small-scale production or has an idea. “He may not have a website; he may not have all the resources, but he’s hungry…he just needs an opportunity, so we’ll give him an e-commerce platform,” Avent explained.
The customer gets a website, but Avent controls the backend, handling production, order fulfillment and shipping.
As a graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University with an MBA from Albertus Magnus, Avent says his upbringing has helped him with all the reinventions and innovations he’s had to do, and he tries to pass on the knowledge he has acquired to his students. He accepts ECSU students for internships that he adapts to their goals.
“I call it ‘entrepreneur your own internship.’ I put them in a position to test every theory they ever had in class to bring them to life here, so if you’re into social media marketing, here’s our social media. Let’s see what you can do… They get real hands-on work experience,” he explained.
As Avent moves forward with its new venture, it is ready to continue innovating and adapting.
“Nothing in life is easy,” he said, “you have to go out there and work for it.”