Profiling one of UB’s brightest young businessmen
Written for the University at Buffalo Spectrum Newspaper
BY: KIERAN POWER
May 15th, 2019
Connor Mulholland always knew he wanted to be a businessman.
Growing up in Saratoga Springs he mowed lawns, shoveled driveways and ran a lemonade stand, like a lot of other kids.
But he was taking things seriously.
“People thought it was cute at the time,” Mulholland said. “But then I was actually doing very well, making like $50 a day, and as a 10 or 11-year-old, that’s not bad at all.”
Now, Mulholland, a UB freshman and business advertising and finance major, is preparing to drop the hotly anticipated second collection from his clothing brand, Uncharted Apparel.
Mulholland and his high school friend-turned-business partner Ryan Flatley, a freshman at Clarkson University majoring in mechanical engineering, launched Uncharted Apparel in 2017.
Their first collection of clothing released in March 2018, with some products selling out instantly, much to the delight and relief of the co-founders.
“Me and Connor had devoted a lot of time, money and resources to this drop,” Flatley said. “Being high schoolers it could’ve gone one of two ways, either everyone loved it or they hated it, and on the first drop it was a big hit, so that was amazing.”
However, the two young entrepreneurs soon found that running a business in college was not as easy as running one in high school.
“I almost found it impossible during the first couple of weeks here,” Mulholland said. “It’s a total change in environment from being home.”
“Then I relaxed. I got into some good habits so that once I was done with my schoolwork, without really taking a break I’d just go right into working on the brand, whether it be the website, trying to get pictures, making designs, stuff like that.”
Flatley also found difficulty in the transition from high school to college, especially in the distance it put between him and his business partner.
“It’s tough being far away from Connor. Back home we’re five minutes away,” Flatley said. “You have to make time for it. Whether you have to stay up late or get up earlier, you have to make sacrifices for it because that’s what’s more important to us.”
The hustle mentality and focus the men have developed is crucial to helping maintain their friendship, which both admitted can occasionally be strained by the tough choices a business demands.
“Sometimes we have conflicts, but overall it’s nice,” Mulholland said. “With two people it’s like if he doesn’t want to make the extra step, I’ll push him and he’ll push me. So it’s like a positive reinforcement thing with both of us.”
Their friendship can also be their greatest strength, according to Flatley.
“We definitely have some disagreements,” Flatley said. “But we’ve been friends for a while, so when I disagree with something he says, I’m not afraid to tell him and he’s not afraid to tell me.”
Gordon Eisenberg, a freshman at Syracuse University majoring in finance, is another of Mulholland’s friends who has worked for Uncharted Apparel in multiple capacities.
“We used to go to sneaker conventions down in [New York] City, and in New Jersey,” Eisenberg said. “We’ve always done business things together; we both see eye-to-eye on that.”
Eisenberg helped with photography and videography in the lead up to the Spring 2018 drop and has also modeled for the brand.
He considers Mulholland to be “pretty much a perfectionist; he wants to make sure that the customers are getting something that they’re really gonna like and that they’re gonna come back for.”
This is an assessment that Mulholland himself agrees with.
“The amount of work that goes into making a website and pushing out a line of clothing, I had totally underestimated,” Mulholland said. “I’m very particular, so if something didn’t look right, I would have a little freak out and you’d have to calm me down,” he said with a chuckle.
Flatley also sees Mulholland and himself as perfectionists, but argues that this is vital for the success of their business.
“I think you need to be,” Flatley said. “Because if you’re not going to do everything to the right detail, that’s where complacency comes in. You start forgetting some minor details, skipping out on something that you should’ve done. So I think if you don’t keep that perfectionist mindset then it’s gonna spiral out of control.”
Mulholland and Flatley have far greater ambitions than just making money, however.
The pair have already pledged to donate 25% of their proceeds to the World Wildlife Fund in an effort to promote sustainability, and one day hope to start their own charity.
“We wanted to go with World Wildlife Fund because people know them and know what they’re doing,” Mulholland said. “They’re helping the environment, they’re helping endangered species, which is basically what we want to end up doing.”
“We want to make sure that we’re doing something a little bit bigger than ourselves,” Flatley said. “So by giving that 25% we were having a real impact, we’re making this company actually worth something.”
The remaining profit made so far has all been reinvested in the business, according to Mulholland.
The commitment to doing something bigger than just selling clothes is also evident in the way the co-founders talk about their brand.
An excerpt from their website, unchartedapparel.net, reads ‘Uncharted Apparel strives to bring the focus of the common people back to nature, while opening minds and revealing the wonders that await just beyond the horizon.’
To some these might seem like lofty ambitions for a clothing brand, but for Mulholland and Flatley it’s a core part of their business identity.
“We want people to go out and explore,” Mulholland said. “We want people to put down their phones and go out there and see what nature has to offer.”
“Saratoga Springs is right at the foot of the Adirondacks, so especially in that area there’s so much to do in the summer. You can hike a new mountain every single day and never really run out of mountains.”
Looking to the future, both co-founders have high ambitions for where the brand will go next.
Mulholland is looking at growing the brand’s online presence, including growing their Instagram following on @uncharted.apparel, which currently has nearly 3,000 followers.
He also wants to start using influencer marketing, and the company is already accepting applications for brand ambassadors who want to help sell their wares.
Flatley, meanwhile, has his sights set on a physical space for the brand to exist in.
“Right now we’re strictly online,” Flatley said. “Hopefully one day we’ll be able to get a storefront and grow from there.”
The most recent Uncharted Apparel drop was the “Spring Collection ‘19”, which went on sale on May 11th at 11am at unchartedapparel.net
“What you can expect from this new drop is quality clothing,” Flatley said. “It might cost us a little more money, we might have to decrease our profit margins a little bit, but we wanna put out quality products.”
Mulholland teased five different t-shirt designs, some hats and some hoodies, and said the spring collection would have spring-summer colors; blue, light green, olive, orange, and grey.
Mulholland, Flatley, and Uncharted Apparel are certainly worth keeping up with as they grow their business and their presence in western New York and beyond.
The best thing to do, Mulholland said, is “stay tuned.”