Frocket Power: Freshmen start customized ‘frocket’ shirt business

Freshman Davis Church sews on shirt pockets as Freshman Trent Erps irons the next pocket in their dorm room. The two long time friends started their business Helm Brothers at the beginning of the fall semester at WKU. The business consists of sewing on custom shirt pockets onto t-shirts. They are both brothers in Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity.

Mackenzie Mathews

Louisville freshman Davis Church decided to take a college job into his own hands. He and his business partner, Louisville freshman Trent Erps, started Helm Brothers, a company that makes t-shirts and sweatshirts with front pockets out of their dorm room.

The partners decided to create their business after realizing how expensive store-bought front-pocket — commonly known as “frocket” — shirts were. They invested in the supplies and quickly got to work preparing for the college market.

Helm Brothers has officially been running for two weeks with more than 30 shirts already sold.

The name of the company is derived from the nautical style of a ship’s steering wheel, known as a helm. And because Erps and Church are fraternity brothers in Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, “Helm Brothers” was formed. Church has found that getting the word out is the key to success.

“Being friendly to people, and trying to meet as many people as I can has really been helping with my business,” Church said.

And a college campus has been a great place to market, with people always around the university.

Church said he carries some of the patterns used for the pockets in his backpack as quick examples for potential customers.

The creation process is about an hour long per shirt. It starts by cutting a pocket from the customer-chosen fabric. The company symbol, a helm, is sewn on to the pocket, and then the pocket sewn onto the customer-chosen shirt.

But as simple as the business may seem, Church sees a lot of potential in his new venture.

“I think you should have every intention of dreaming big,” he said. “I definitely want it go somewhere and people are really stoked about it.”

Helm Brothers is in the process of creating a website in order to reach out to more students and, eventually, other universities. A sales team has been hired to market at WKU, and there are potential opportunities to develop the market at other schools.

Church had already planned for expanding the merchandise beyond shirts when naming the company “Helm Brothers.” He said he did not want to relate the name to pockets because Helm Brothers would then be tied to a certain product.

Erps said they have been efficient so far.

“We make a good team, getting orders, buying the materials and preparing the shirts for delivery,” he said.

More than 35 pocket patterns and 30 shirts can be found on Helm Brothers’ twitter page, @Helm_Brothers, and orders can be taken via [email protected].