As hallmates in the dorm and pledge brothers in Delta Tau Delta, Braxton Manley and Grant Andrews eventually started a business, Braxley Bands, together during their time at Texas Tech. “That’s how we started to become friends,” Andrews said. “Then, we both had the business mindset.”
Both of their dads were entrepreneurs, so it was just in their blood. With the whole fascination of entrepreneurship, Andrews started a juice business, and Manley was thinking of concepts on the apparel side of things.
Manley received an Apple Watch for Christmas and liked it, but he explained he was not in favor of the band. After searching online for a different watchband, he could only find rubber or leather ones with solid colors.
The collaboration between the two originally started with a different idea, Strapped. The idea was also for Apple watchbands, but they want to repurpose the leather. After consideration, they decided Braxley Bands had more potential, Manley emphasized, and they went full force with the idea as juniors.
“We realized there was a really big gap there for a brand to come out with new designs,” Manley said. “Then on top of that, we added the functionality of them being elastic, which provide these practical benefits.”
Andrews described they tried to find which material worked best, and Manley ended up crafting the watchband with a sock. After deciding on elastic, the two started sewing them together, using the machine from Manley’s grandma.
Once they designed a couple, their friend’s jumped on the idea and had a huge interest in buying them. Manley shared the two never had to go into debt for Braxley Bands. They sold their bands for cash and would put that money back into the business.
The Innovation Hub, an entrepreneurial center on Tech’s campus, offered Manley and Andrews a $5,000 grant and access to an office. Andrews emphasized they would spend some 18-hour days in the office.
“We are able to grow our company out of the Innovation Hub with a bunch of support from Texas Tech, financially and the resources and connections,” Manley said. “That was probably the most valuable thing we could’ve gotten from Texas Tech, for sure.”
T.C. Elli’s, a local boutique in Lubbock, was the first retail store that sold Braxley Bands. Andrews explained their online presence was important after that, with social media and the website, because it helped with getting the word out.
At that point, with the two having resources available to skyrocket their brand, that’s exactly what they did. Now as alumni, they have a manufacturer out of Austin, and recently started selling overseas and working with a bigger audience.
“Starting this, we kind of knew we wanted to not just create a product, but create a brand,” Andrews said.
Moving forward, they both addressed they want to grow Braxley Bands more, expand into national realtors, and eventually start producing other products.
Entrepreneurship can be a big leap. Manley and Andrews advise for people to start learning on their own, from podcasts, experiments, reading books, and networking with like-minded people.
“Find what you’re interested and pursue the heck out of it,” Andrews said. “Don’t be scared of failure.”
For entrepreneurial students at Tech, Manley and Andrews encourage getting involved in the Innovation Hub. They said it is the best place to see an idea come to life.
“[Tech] supported us so much; we’ll always support them,” Manley said. “We’ll always be proud alumni. We’re always going to represent the school.”
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Photo Credit: Braxley Bands