Building a company from scratch is no small task, especially when both partners are students. This June, UT seniors and best friends Erik Margetis and Jonathan Ong, an MIS and finance major respecitvely, will be formally launching their men’s apparel company Kit and Port.
In 2013, Ong and Margetis met each other in a required UGS class. The pair said they bonded over each other’s driving passion for both apparel and business. They soon realized the network of support and information capital surrounding the University could help them build a company.
By January 2016, Ong and Margetis started on the journey to building their company, Kit and Port. The pair got the name for the company from the Paul Bowles novel ‘The Sheltering Sky,’ a story following a couple experiencing marital strife and traveling in North Africa.
After months of prep and design, a unique opportunity arose when Ong and Margetis went to their manufacturer for prototyping. During the prototyping process, the manufacturer utilized women who had previously lost their husbands or sons and provided them an opportunity to weave the shoes’ leather lace. It was an opportunity that prompted Margetis to notify their manufacturer to seek more local opportunities for shoe makers in unfortunate situations.
“We don’t look at our company as a one-to-one pairing with TOMS,” Margetis said. “We feel it’s important to have a social impact.”
However, Ong and Margetis have experienced their fair share of road bumps. When their designer left the project the weekend before designs had to be sent to their manufacturer, Ong said he managed to complete the designs in less than 72 hours. On another occasion, they lost contact with their Mexican manufacturer, and Margetis personally traveled down to the facility to re-establish communication. But to Ong and Margetis, these inconveniences have only strengthened their bond.
“Most of the time, we are running full speed with blindfolds on,” Ong said. “You don’t have to know where you are going (because) you’ll learn along the way.”
Daniel Garza, a communication senior at UT who modeled for the company, said he senses the direction for Kit and Port will be defined by its unique style.
“The unique thing about Kit and Port is that they’re tailoring their apparel towards the weekend lifestyle,” Garza said. “There’s not many, if any, brands that I know are doing this. I think K&P is pioneering a new direction for men’s fashion.”
Ong and Margetis said the future of Kit and Port will continue to center around a man’s weekend style that is both versatile and unique. This June, the official launch of Kit and Port will feature their first product — a weekend shoe called the ‘Lazy Saturday.’
As for their success and journey so far, Margetis and Ong are thankful for the entrepreneurial support networks the university has provided.
“Personally, I can’t thank UT enough for everything it’s given me,” Margetis said. “UT has really helped me develop into the person that I am today. I’m so proud to be a Longhorn and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”