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Best Foot Forward

Albright College junior Kevin Ostromecki's company, Altix Clothing, is kicking off a new shoe line that aims to help impoverished children, spread hope and connect customers on a global scale.

By Hilary Bentman

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Kevin Ostromecki '16, founder of Altix Clothing, is crowdfunding his new line of sneakers, Classic Heroshoes, aimed at spreading hope, helping others, and connecting customers on a global scale. Photo Courtesy: Altix Clothing

Kevin Ostromecki '16 wants people to walk a mile in his shoes and leave their mark on the world.

The Albright College business administration and digital media major, who in 2012 founded Altix Clothing, a custom apparel and shoe company that promotes "social-based fashion," is launching a new shoe line that aims to help impoverished children, spread hope and connect customers on a global scale.

It's called Classic Heroshoes, a low-style canvas sneaker covered in Altix's hallmark edgy, urban, geometric designs. The plan is to dedicate 10 percent of every sale to Potter's House, a nonprofit organization in Guatemala City that helps thousands of starving, impoverished children who live and work near the city's dump.

Through what it calls its Global Impact Project, Altix will ask Classic Heroshoes customers to photograph themselves wearing their new kicks and "doing something sweet," said Ostromecki. Customers will then send the pictures to Altix, which will geotag the photos with their location and add them to an interactive world map on the Altix website to illustrate the products' global reach.

"This is an attempt to demonstrate unity on a visual platform. We all believe the same message," said Ostromecki. "It puts the customer involved in the Heroshoes movement in the center. You are part of this and together we can make a difference."

These socially conscious sneakers are not available yet, though Altix is taking pre-orders. Ostromecki has launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise $8,000 to get Classic Heroshoes off and running, hopefully by the end of summer.

"This is more than just a concept. It's a realistic application," said A.J. Mummert '15, a psychology and philosophy major who is part of the Altix family. "We want people all over the world to give back and to make people feel empowered. You're not just buying a pair of shoes. You're contributing to a greater thing."

Typically Altix's Heroshoes are custom designed and unique. The new Classic line will be available in two set styles that "capture the essence and vibe of Altix," said Ostromecki. The shoes are expected to retail for about $40.

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Sample of Altix's new Classic Heroshoes. Photo Courtesy: Altix Clothing (indiegogo.com)

The Classic Heroshoes concept is certainly in step with Ostromecki's philosophical and ideological outlook. This young entrepreneur is driven to succeed but is even more passionate about running a business that embodies the principles of hope, innovation, creativity, positivity and following one's dreams.

"Kevin stands as the contemporary entrepreneur," said Dylan Markward, a junior at West Chester University, who is also involved in the Altix business. "To see that spirit in someone, it's so few and far between. He embodies what he wants to promote – pureness."

Ostromecki said he's turned off by the materialism that he sees dominating the fashion industry.

"I'm just a 20-year-old kid attending college like thousands of other kids, trying to change the world and leave my mark," he said.

Altix was born out of Ostromecki's propensity for doodling. In high school, the Gilbertsville native was known for his graphic artwork. One day a friend asked him to design a plain pair of white shoes.

"It became a mini hit around school and in the area, and one order went to 20 then 30 then 40. Soon it was a couple hundred," said Ostromecki.

Soon thereafter, Ostromecki founded Altix. With his own personal savings, he purchased some blank canvas shoes and began taking orders for custom designs. Altix has expanded from there, selling shirts, hats, stickers and even custom-designed women's high heels. It's not unusual for Ostromecki to spot an Albright student sporting one of his creations.

But Ostromecki wanted to do more than just sell shoes and shirts. He has twice been to Guatemala for service projects and was struck by the adults and children "rummaging around in garbage."

"Meanwhile, I have running water, excess food. I'm going to college," he said.

So Altix officially partnered with Potter's House to help Guatemalan children.

"We're all in this together," said Mummert. "And the time to do it is now."

Most Altix products are sold online, though customers can now find apparel at Hodge Podge Unique Boutique in Boyertown. Ostromecki hopes to add more brick-and-mortar locations in the coming months.

He does all the screen printing, and most apparel is created out of his home in Gilbertsville, though some is also produced in his Albright dorm room. "My parents come up (to campus) to supply me with more merchandise," he says.

Ostromecki manages to balance running his company with taking classes and playing in a band, Vibe Deta, with Mummert, Markward and others.

"Kevin's natural state is unbridled, manic energy. That's what it takes to do this," said Markward. "He's a constant flow of passion and life."

By the time he graduates, Ostromecki hopes Altix is large enough to pursue as a fulltime business. He is already thinking about bigger and better things. In the not-too-distant future, he hopes to start attending trade shows so the company can get picked up by large retailers like Urban Outfitters.

Ultimately, Ostromecki dreams of creating his own Altix flagship store to house a design lab. Customers could walk in, choose their base shoes and laces, and hand their choice and graphic design idea to an artist, who would then create their custom product onsite.

"Like Build-A-Bear," said Ostromecki, with a laugh.

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For more information on Classic Heroshoes and to contribute to the crowd-funding effort, visit www.indiegogo.com/projects/altix-clothing-classic-heroshoes

For more about Altix, visit www.altixclothing.com or www.facebook.com/AltixClothing

 

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