A teenager was frustrated with the pricey options he found at a boutique clothing shop, so he decided to use his creativity, and that of his friends, to launch his own Fort Mill clothing company.
Don Raven is the brainchild of Ezekiel MacMillan. The 17-year-old attended Fort Mill High School before his family moved last summer to Waynesville, N.C. His parents gave him the startup money, and now his team of nearly a dozen Fort Mill 16- and 17-year-olds helps him operate the company. They design, model and photograph their own items.
His concept is unique. MacMillan draws the designs, and graphic artist Graham Dempsey converts his sketches to digital format. Photographer Jane Janick brings MacMillan’s concepts to life.
The philosophy for Don Raven is simple:
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“It’s a clothing company for people with a love for creativity, style and the outdoors,” MacMillan said.
“Instead of taking antlers off animals, which tends to be the hunting style around the Southeast, we wanted to put them on different animals, it’s kind of a different take on Southern style.”
His latest design is a raven with an impressive rack of antlers. It’s the second design the company has released since it was launched in June 2015. For MacMillan, antlers represent much more than a trophy. It’s what he calls “organic nobility.”
“When I saw antlers, it was a symbol of strength and beauty found naturally,” he said, “Sort of like nature’s crown.”
Don Raven’s items are all made of 100 percent combed ring spun cotton, which means they’re really soft. It’s attention to details like that which MacMillan hopes can set his company apart.
“It’s one thing to make a brand and it look nice but another for it to feel nice,” he said.
MacMillan is working on creating more designs as well as experimenting with adding organic cotton items and sweatshirts, hats and stickers.
MacMillan has big dreams for his small start-up. He is in talks with athletes and musicians to sponsor them and is hoping to get into stores in Asheville, N.C. He also is considering opening up his own brick and mortar store one day.
“I would eventually like to make a building, a local shop, for it,” he said. “From there, I’m open to ideas.”
Katie Rutland: firstname.lastname@example.org, @kt_belle
Don Raven clothing can be found online at donraven.com.