Photo courtesy TCS Sportswear
At The Creative Studio Sportswear, receiving one-of-a-kind apparel is a guarantee.
Aaron Higginbottom and Ralph Sanon, co-founders of the TCS brand, aim to provide schools with quality and affordable athletic wear. Located in Boston, they often team up with Boston Public Schools to create custom clothing for student athletes. By offering a free consultation to each client, they hope to ensure that they create exactly what their clients are looking for.
Everything is personalized, including the package the apparel arrives in and the labels on the tags. Higginbottom said it is this “above and beyond” mindset that sets TCS apart from the rest.
“It is an individualized experience from the second you put in your order to the second you get it and put it on,” Higginbottom said. “We want that to be different than anybody else. Anybody else could send you what you asked for, but we want to go above and beyond.”
Higginbottom and Sanon met each other in Boston while attending West Roxbury High School. Sanon excelled in the high school’s digital art class, in which he developed a knack for creating original images. Higginbottom went on to study accounting at Norfolk State University. Together, they put their skills to the test and founded TCS in 2019.
The pair strives to give back to the Boston community by working with public schools like the one they attended, which often do not have the resources to update their practice wear and uniforms frequently.
“We want to make sure that everybody can afford to get amazing apparel that they keep and have no problem saying, ‘Hey, this is just for us,’” Higginbottom said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has harmed the company, Higginbottom said, as it has with countless other small businesses across the nation, but the recent rise in the Black Lives Matter movement has reminded him of the importance of small businesses like his. He wants people to know that TCS is a company that stands behind Black Lives Matter and aims to promote change in any way it can.
In addition to their sportswear store, TCS also runs The Prep Shop, which offers a selection of non-school-based merchandise, including a Black Lives Matter collection.
Though TCS is still a budding business, Higginbottom hopes to expand it so that it will serve as an example to future Black generations.
“We’re trying to grow and be the next big thing,” Higginbottom said. “It would be kind of cool to have a Black company be something huge, you know.”
In his eyes, it is important to support minority-owned businesses because they bring new ideas to the table. People of different backgrounds and cultures have a wealth of knowledge and a wide variety of experiences that can be utilized in a business environment, he said. It can be difficult to be innovative if everyone in the room comes from the same place.
“No matter where you come from or what you believe in, we all can use each other in a positive way,” said Higginbottom. “I think that’s why we should support the minority businesses because they’re going to bring these new, creative ideas that you’ve never heard of.”
Standing out in a sea of companies is not an easy task, but the goal of TCS is to do just that.
“Just to know that we created it, and that nobody else has anything like this, is what makes it so phenomenal,” Higginbottom said.
The Creative Studio sells their apparel at tcssportswear.com and tcsprepshop.com.
This story is a part of a series within the city section, which explores the stories of Black-owned small businesses surrounding Northeastern and throughout the Boston area.
Rachel Erwin can be reached at [email protected]