The clock on the microwave in Joe Mozyeko and Jack Pittas’ shared apartment read 9:19 p.m.
Flipping off the living room lights, the late April twilight bounced off the walls as Pittas shut the front door and climbed into his black Wrangler. A package about the size of a cigar box was carefully set down in the passenger seat, containing three particularly purchased items.
Pulling up outside of Taylor Swartz’ apartment building, the clock on Pittas’ radio read 9:28 p.m. Two minutes early. Pittas grabbed the box and walked toward the door. Swartz was expecting him.
The two fraternity brothers had been friends since freshman year and a late night visit was not unusual. This visit, however, was different — more formal.
The package handed to Swartz contained a sleek-looking watch, Ray-Ban-style sunglasses, and a small metal tie clip. All three items were ordered from Tharros LLC, a company that originated at JMU specializing in “affordable, luxury men’s products,” as Mozyeko, the co-founder and marketing manager, described. Almost every item in stock is offered in an assortment of colors, and everything is less than $20.
“Sixty-nine percent of people our age do not wear tie clips when, you know, you should be,” Pittas had said in our interview, indirectly praising Swartz for his purchase of one. The percentage comes from a survey Mozyeko and Pittas sent out to JMU, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia University upon inception of Tharros. Along with the items Swartz purchased, the company also sells a variety of bow ties.
After catching up with Pittas on his doorstep, Swartz retreated back into his own apartment, eager to escape the rapidly dropping temperature and to admire the items he purchased from his friend. Swartz had seen the company grow since it began in January of 2017 when Pittas and Mozyeko showed interest in beginning a business focused on men’s fashion. Now that products were being released by Tharros, Swartz was one of many who were intrigued by the company.
Pittas, the financial manager and co-founder, arrived back at his apartment with Mozyeko nowhere to be found — most likely still in Showker studying. The pair never made deliveries together due in part to their busy class schedules. Studies come before sales for the pair, who run the business out of their apartment and fund the venture out of their own pockets, which was why a business meeting was planned for midnight of this evening.
Mozyeko entered the apartment and immediately headed toward the kitchen for a snack before his informal meeting with his business partner and roommate. The two extensively discussed future plans for the company, including placing Tharros’ logo on the face of the watch along with an engraved backing, constructing a professional website, and filing to become a limited liability company (Tharros LLC was originally founded as Tharros Co.).
Since that meeting in April, Pittas and Mozyeko, both juniors at JMU, have accomplished their plans. The branded watch launched in June, the LLC was verified in September, and the company website went live in October.
Business has picked up since the start of the new school year. Tharros is being recognized by students throughout Virginia, and College of Business professors are mentioning the venture to their classes. The website, created by Mozyeko, has changed operations greatly, allowing the partners to rely solely on online payments and easier shipping options. While Tharros has made a profit, the revenue is immediately reinvested back into the company.
“We haven’t taken a dime out for ourselves since we started,” Pittas said.
During a sunny October tailgate, the roommates noticed just how much Tharros LLC has grown in only a few short months. Looking past the sea of purple overwhelming Upper Convo, Pittas and Mozyeko would instead focus their attention on familiar looking sunglasses shielding the eyes of unfamiliar people.
“Like, ‘Those look phenomenal,’” Pittas joked, wishing to say it to the purchaser of the glasses on which he and Mozyeko had worked tirelessly. “‘They look lovely.’”
And for the duo’s bright future ahead, a pair of cool shades are essential.