With students wearing his signature “Mac hats” and sweatshirts across campus, stickers plastered all over school buildings and a new deal to sell clothing on the popular underground fashion website Karmaloop, USC junior Raymond Courtney’s start-up business, Macnificent Collection, is taking off.
In August, Courtney presented the London 2012 Olympic collection of his Macnificent clothing line at the Magic Tradeshow in Las Vegas to potential buyers and more than 5,000 clothing brands from more than 80 international countries. He left the trade show with a deal to sell his clothing on Karmaloop in the future.
“I’m really excited about selling our entire collection on the Karmaloop site,” Courtney said. “This will only help us to have more success and generate more accounts because it will help boost our credibility and awareness of becoming an up-and-coming brand.”
Courtney said he hopes people wear the brand because they have a personal relation to it — not just because it’s a popular line.
“It’s all about being great and it’s not connected to individuals, not about mackin’ the ladies,” Courtney said. “I want people to believe in the brand and wear it not because it’s a trend but because it represents them as an individual and being Macnificent within themselves.”
The Macnificent brand represents ordinary people who exhibit MACnificence in their everyday lives by promoting individuality, literacy and entrepreneurship. The streetwear brand released its snapback Mac Hats with their “MAC” logo on the front last Tuesday.
But despite the line’s success, Courtney didn’t always have an interest in fashion. After his father’s stroke in 2009, Courtney was interested in studying neuroscience; however, his passion for design, fashion and entrepreneurship drove him to pursue fine arts at USC in the fall of 2010.
Founded in 2003, Courtney and his brother, Martel Courtney, built Macnificent from the ground up. What was started as a fun fashion hobby between high school friends evolved as the business grew to house deliveries and online purchases. The Courtney brothers have now turned their home in Norwalk into their in-house factory, where they distribute to local stores throughout Los Angeles, including iVogue on Melrose Avenue and Metro Fusion in the Fox Hills Mall. Raymond Courtney has also presented his line at various college campus fashion shows for Cal State, USC’s Gearfest and the USC Fashion Industry Association.
“[There was a hip-hop group] called Dipset [consisting of Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones and Freekey Zekey] that used to have these crazy airbrush designs so I decided to go home and create my own styles,” Raymond Courtney said. “I was just doing it to be cool, but my brother stuck with it and studied fashion design to where one day he created this standout sweater we called the Mac Cyborg.”
Macnificent’s original sweater features a Cyborg face with features that spell out “Mac” and the signature elbow pads that help them stand out as a brand. The sweatshirts, shirts and snapbacks target young adults of both genders.
The Courtney brothers work on all elements of the clothing line. From sketching designs, creating the website, making the tees, taking the photographs and managing the modeling by current USC students, the brothers handle all aspects of running a small business.
“I like to wear the Mac hats and shirts,” said Naod Ephraim, a senior majoring in computer science and business administration who has modeled for the brand. “The Macnificent brand provides and represents the next generation of underground and hip-hop fashion.”
Last summer, Raymond Courtney’s start-up was chosen to be a part of the Lloyd Greif Center for Entrepreneurial Studies’ Accelerator+Incubator+Mentoring Summer Program for promising start-ups. Out of the 18 student start-ups selected to be a part of the program, Macnificent was one of the six chosen to receive $15,000 in financial support and mentorship from USC Marshall School of Business faculty and successful entrepreneurs and incubation.
Raymond Courtney plans on using the services provided by the USC Marshall AIM program to continue working on the fall collection. Though the start-up requires a lot of unforeseen hard work and effort that must be balanced with his studies, Raymond and Martel Courtney feel that it’s worth it and are willing to invest everything into their brand.
“The brand is going in a direction I couldn’t ever imagine,” said Martel Courtney. “From selling on the streets, online and stores, it’s a good feeling to see hard work and dedication pays off — no short cuts. Macnificent will be the next best brand coming out of the west.”
The Macnificent clothing collection can be purchased on MacnificentCollection.com.