Tal Blaustein '22
The pandemic has given many high schoolers the opportunity to focus on their passions. Some students have even started their own organizations and businesses with all of the free time they have. In the spring of 2020, Tal Blaustein ’22 established his own clothing company called “Zooba”, which sells shirts, crewnecks, and hoodies. Since then, his brand has gone viral and has had a lot of success, especially in Scarsdale. Zooba’s Instagram account, where products are advertised, has thousands of followers, contributing to the company’s success. All brands start somewhere, and the idea for Zooba came to Blaustein while he was in quarantine.
While Blaustein was in quarantine, he found many old sketchbooks and notebooks with drawings that he made in 2009 and 2010. They were filled with interesting characters and monsters, and Blaustein was pleased with his artwork. The inspiration for the name, Zooba, came from a comic strip he had drawn in one of his notebooks. “One character just screamed ‘Zooba Zooba’ and I had no idea what that meant, but I thought it was very cool and original,” Blaustein said. After discovering his old art, he decided to start a creative project where he used Adobe Illustrator to digitize his drawings. After successfully digitizing his drawings, Blaustein got the idea to put them on clothing. Eventually, he got a lot of positive feedback from his family and friends, which pushed him to turn his creative project into a business.
After formally establishing Zooba as a business, Blaustein first had to reach out to manufacturers and screen printers who would help him bring his artwork to life. He contacted several people and discussed the many different costs and methods of manufacturing clothing. Once he had his products, Blaustein had to prepare for the most important, yet difficult aspect of his business: sales. As a new business, he started small by selling to his friends and family. However, like any brand, he had to get the word out and reach new customers in order to expand. Blaustein primarily accomplished this through social media. With Zooba’s Instagram account, Blaustein was able to give the brand exposure and easily attract customers of a wide audience. In order to create photos for marketing campaigns and advertisements, Blaustein invited his friends over to set up photoshoots and create the images that he wanted to put out for people to see. “I always am making new content that could be spread to promote the brand and I think that [it]… has been beneficial to Zooba’s success,” Blaustein explained. This way of advertising was an ideal way to reach a target audience of teenagers and young adults because the page was accessible to anyone and everyone.
The pandemic has been both a positive and negative factor in the brand’s success as well. Since many people are stuck at home, more hours are spent on social media, which has increased the brand’s exposure on social media platforms. However, it is also a difficult time for people economically, where money might have to go somewhere other than shirts and sweatshirts. “Still, I think [social media and the internet] is a way we found a lot of new customers,” Blaustein stated.
Currently, Zooba is close to reaching its first milestone; to finish selling and distributing the first batch of products. For Blaustein, being able to expand the brand and attract new customers is only part of a long term goal. The experience and knowledge gained from being in the industry and being able to experiment more with digital art and designing is also essential. He encourages anyone aspiring to start their own business, just like he did, to go for it. “There’s never a better time to fail and there’s never a better time to learn things than now,” Blaustein concluded.