* Business: Shelly Cove LLC* Job: Chief executive officer* Age: 22* Education: Covenant College* Quote: “There has been a steady incline in business. It kind of took off more than expected.”
Matt Schroeder says he had a couple of early entrepreneurial ventures and worked at another before he and his parents landed on starting an apparel company aimed at young females in 2015.
Today, Shelly Cove LLC expects to reel in seven figures in revenue in 2018, growing by a third over last year.
"We've got a whole lot of room to grow," adds Schroeder, the 22-year-old company CEO who also works for the Tennessee Valley Authority in Chattanooga.
The internet-based business originally started in Jamestown, N.C., where his parents, Richard and Karen, still live. When he was growing up, his parents took him to Topsail Island, North Carolina every summer, visiting the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Sanctuary to see the marine life which had been saved.
"Seeing so many recovering sea turtles was educational, awe-inspiring, and unforgettable," Schroeder says.
He says his family got to know the center's operators and their nonprofit mission. He and his parents decided to tie in a business featuring a laid-back, trendy clothing line with the sea turtles center, giving 10 percent of the profits to the sanctuary.
Schroeder, who came to Chattanooga to attend Covenant College, says his parents are looking to move to the Scenic City this year so all the key people and the parts of the business can be assembled in one location. They order blank T-shirts and then custom make the finished product.
"There has been a steady incline in business," Schroeder says. "It kind of took off more than expected."
On the day of the launch of the internet site, 55 sales were made, he says.
"We've never gone a day without selling at least 10 shirts," Schroeder says. "It has been pretty exciting. This is like a full-time job pretty fast."
While working full time at his TVA job, he says he also puts in about 40 hours a week on Shelly Cove.
As CEO, he oversees several part-time employees who do picking and packing with every shirt hand-wrapped.
"Customers tend to like that," Schroeder says.
In terms of the future, he's not sure about the sale of the apparel in brick-and-mortar stores because online sales are working so well.
"We're on the fence about brick and mortar," Schroeder says, adding that "2018 will tell."