Emily Koch was sitting on the kitchen counter in her apartment one night, scrolling through tabs of inventory to order for her sweatshirt business, Rewritten Apparel. While tabulating the costs for the shirts and hoodies for her first pop-up shop, she found that she could not afford to invest the $1,000 needed for the merchandise.
“I sort of knew that there’s always a risk that you lose all of it or some of it or you don’t make all of it back,” said Koch, a senior political science major. “And I just decided I just have to trust myself to just do it. And if things don’t sell, they don’t sell. And hopefully, I’ll sell them eventually.”
But the financial risk was worth it when Koch sold all the readymade garments at the pop-up shop at The Nest.
At first, Rewritten only offered Temple University apparel and Philadelphia “birds” memorabilia but now the company is ready to reach a larger audience by extending its collection to other universities and sports teams outside of Philadelphia. Koch receives an average of 28 to 29 orders per month and sells her items on Etsy, at pop-up shops and through Instagram.
“I love my primary audience being Temple and Philly because that’s my home and community, but it’s so amazing that someone across the country or in Florida has a sweatshirt of mine,” Koch said.
Koch started her small business during her senior year at Towson High School near Baltimore because she enjoyed thrifting and repurposing her old clothes. However, it wasn’t until her friends began looking for college apparel after they committed to college that she realized there was a market for university-themed clothing.
“As I got closer to going to school, and I realized that other people are getting closer to going into school, everybody sort of wanted original college apparel, tailgate apparel, things like that,” Koch said.
The business started in 2019, but Koch took a two-year hiatus to focus on her mental health. It was difficult for her to find a work-life balance when juggling college, financial expenses and the loneliness of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When she returned to her business in 2021, Koch wanted her company to provide a more personal experience for customers as opposed to when they buy from large companies, like Amazon.
“As much as it is I’m just delivering a product to people, I want people to know that there’s a person behind those products, and I come up with every single one of my designs,” Koch said.
Koch’s roommate, Mia Iannucci, a senior advertising major, has helped in the design, production and execution of sales and pop-up shops. She has seen their living room turn into a factory with designs, boxes, and materials scattered across their floors.
“Watching Rewritten grow on campus and social media from a few designs and few followers to thousands has been truly amazing,” Iannucci said.
Jaymi Torjman, a junior psychology major, was one of Koch’s first customers at Temple. She purchased one of Rewritten’s most popular designs, a hoodie with vinyl lettering on the back that reads “Text me when you get to Temple.”
“I had been wanting to buy from her before, but she was always super busy and it never worked out, so when she launched a website, I was so excited to buy from her,” Torjman said.
Hannah Seewald, a senior communication and social influence major, met Koch through Temple’s chapter of Ignite, a women’s political advocacy organization.
She has supported Koch throughout her business endeavors by helping her draw clothing designs and model the apparel on Rewritten’s Instagram account.
“Emily is an artist and loves doing what she does,” Seewald said. “She’s always making news designs, and she truly cares about the quality of her work and creating a relationship with everyone who buys from her.”
While Koch studies abroad in London for the remainder of the Fall semester, she plans to continue selling through her Etsy store and working with another manufacturer to help her print more tailgate designs. After graduation, she wants to continue working for herself and creating more designs.
“I’m a very big believer in just letting things happen and things happen how they’re supposed to,” Koch said. “So, if it doesn’t work out, I always have my degree and I can always fall back on it and get a nine to five but we’re going to try and push that off for as long as I can.”