For sisters Amanda Quinn and Tara Thompson, the Wolfpack spirit of their alma mater has always been in their blood – and now it has manifested itself in their company as well. Launched in January 2012, Quinn and Thompson’s new clothing line, “Shewolf,” epitomizes the strength and capabilities of women, and pays homage to NC State’s Wolfpack.
With nine years and four degrees between them – Quinn graduated in 2008 with a degree in biological science and Thompson will earn her doctorate and third degree from NC State next spring in educational research and policy analysis of adult and community college education – neither sister expected to be running a clothing company.
However, after spending almost 10 years of her adult life on NC State’s campus, Thompson wanted to find a way to support her school. With a noticeable lack of clothing geared toward women at the campus bookstore, she decided that a clothing line would be the perfect way to convey her message.
“I’m such an NC State woman and I wanted to own that identity – I had put the word ‘Shewolf’ on my license plate and people would stop me on campus and say that I needed to do something with that,” Thompson says. “I’ve seen so many women doing amazing things at this school, so NC State was the ultimate catalyst. We wouldn’t have Shewolf without it.”
Shewolf includes apparel that carries messages of woman empowerment and an NC State licensed line of women’s and children’s apparel.
“It’s such a competitive world, especially among women, so we wanted to send a positive message to empower and strengthen women to encourage each other,” Quinn says. “My sister and I really look to each other and admire each other, and we want other women to do the same.”
The sisters have pledged a portion of the profits to the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and plan to partner with the foundation in the annual Hoops 4 Hope fundraiser next February. “We want our company to be more than just a brand, so it was a no-brainer to partner with Kay Yow,” Thompson says. “My sister and I both went to basketball camp at NC State as kids and we’ve had cancer in our family, so Kay Yow was at the top of the list.”
Quinn and Thompson say they would like to create a Shewolf foundation as an offshoot of their business to raise scholarship money for women, especially non-traditional students like single moms juggling school, jobs and kids. For now, the duo has focused their attention on expanding the brand with more than 60 designs and marketing their lines to the NC State community and beyond.
“We’re just trying to take baby steps and get through the first three years, which are supposed to be the hardest,” Thompson says. “Our philosophy is that this adventure is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Quinn agrees, adding, “This is a side operation for both of us. We both have full time jobs so one of the challenges is not always having the time or energy to devote to Shewolf that we would like.”
Quinn works as an insurance underwriter for a brokerage firm, while Thompson teaches English at Johnston Community College. It’s not uncommon for the sisters to text each other in the middle of the night if they have an idea for Shewolf.
While working with family could seem bound for conflict, Quinn and Thompson insist the process has brought them closer. “Tara operates as the creative side while I’m on the business side, so our personalities and skills complement each other,” Quinn says. “It’s just a matter of learning how to communicate through our differences, but I love spending time together and the business gives us a constant reason to communicate even with such busy lives.”
The sister have also learned from their parents, who successfully ran a small business together for 36 years. Currently selling their products online and at a boutique at Cary Towne Center, the sisters hope to establish enough of a financial base to turn their attentions to Shewolf full-time, creating a lasting brand and legacy.
“My daughter has been a huge inspiration throughout all of this, so I would love for her to be involved in the company at some point,” Thompson says. “If we can build something that will last for several generations of shewolves, well that’s the goal.”