Dallas Startup Finds Market in Study Abroad Programs

Global Threads creates T-shirts to foster community in study abroad programs run by universities

study abroad

Kyle McAllister first envisioned selling T-shirts while in a study abroad program in Florence, Italy in 2013.  

Spending that semester in Italy was a “life-changing” experience that bonded the students together. But, the finance major from Gonzaga University noticed there was nothing to really brand them as being part of that group or experience.

He printed 80 shirts using his own money and started selling them.

“Next thing I knew, they were hot,” McAllister said. “Before I even left, I had almost sold the 80 shirts.” 

That’s the start of Global Threads. He graduated in 2014 and was recruited by TD Ameritrade to relocate to North Texas. He worked as a broker for a while, but couldn’t shake the entrepreneurial itch.

“I’m my own boss and I create my own journey. And there’s nothing better than that” 

Kyle McAllister

He eventually took the leap, leaving TD Ameritrade to dedicate himself to Global Threads full time.

“This was my calling. This is what I need to be doing,” McAllister said. “I’m my own boss and I create my own journey. And there’s nothing better than that. It’s a rollercoaster. It is the ultimate high to be your own boss.”

Now, the 25-year-old Dallas resident is reaching out to universities with big study abroad programs to sell them branded T-shirts. University of San Diego, Gonzaga University, and Syracuse University have already signed up and he’s reaching out to other big schools, including the University of Oklahoma.

“Whenever someone wears something, it always gets attention,” he said. “We’re all about community.”

So far, he’s bootstrapped the company using his own money from his years of investing in the market. He anticipates that he’ll raise funds in early 2018.

He’s also got a spinoff company called Local Threads that makes T-shirts for middle schools, high schools, and local businesses.

There’s also a tech-side to the company. He’s working on a solution to the age-old problem groups have when ordering shirts — having the right sizes to go around. The algorithm uses demographics and other data to create a profile of the group. 

“Through the data that we’re accumulating and the four to five lines of code that we have so far, we really capture all the data we need to make educated guesses on sizes,” he said.

They’re testing that now for a hospital in New York that ordered 150 shirts for its employees, he said.

The T-shirts are manufactured locally and then he contracts with local printers to put the design on them.

[Photo Courtesy Global Trends]


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