by Caleb Thomas
When Sawyer Hennis started Cypress Creek Outfitters in 2020, he never imagined the heights it could reach. But ever since a collaboration with country singer Walker Hayes, and some help from the Troy University IDEA Bank, things are looking up for his small business.
Hennis, a senior global business major at Troy, decided to pursue his longtime goal of starting a clothing line during his free time in the COVID-19 pandemic. After working on his own for a while, Hennis has begun working with the IDEA Bank and credits them with making improvements to his business.
Troy University’s IDEA Bank “aims to support student-centric entrepreneurship,” according to their website. The IDEA Bank does this by providing consulting services, workshops and networking events.
“We try to give students the opportunity to learn from others who have done what they’re trying to do,” said Lynne George, director of the IDEA Bank. “Our main goal is to give them experience and technical support when it comes to getting their business up and running.”
Since he started meeting with George at the IDEA Bank, Hennis said he has been able to formulate more concrete goals and plans for his business.
“They’ve really helped me understand the value of a business plan, especially when it comes to having investors or getting a small business loan,” said Hennis. “It’s been a big improvement to have another set of eyes on my clothing brand and see something from another point of view.”
One of the things that George emphasized is the value of connections and networking when it comes to business. Hennis ended up collaborating with Walker Hayes by taking advantage of the connections available to him.
“Walker Hayes’ mother-in-law gets her haircut from my mom, and she helped put me in contact with him,” said Hennis. “Walker had an interest in one of my designs and reached out to me about it.”
From there, Hennis worked with Hayes on a design for a concert t-shirt, which was sold during one of Hayes’s tours. Although Hennis credits the opportunity for giving his business exposure, he also cites the collaboration as a valuable lesson.
“That was an experience I could learn from, and it helped me grow,” said Hennis. “It was good to work with someone who has made it big.”