Libertyville High student launches ‘VOLUME’ fashion line
BY KATLYN SMITH firstname.lastname@example.org | @Katlyn_eSmith November 7, 2013 4:36AM
Who: Founder of VOLUME, Inc.
Social media: @tharooj
Updated: November 9, 2013 6:43AM
Walk the hallways of Libertyville High School, and you’ll find the eye-catching fashions of Arooj Ahmad.
He has forged a steady following of online shoppers who have snapped up a colorful collection of shorts in modern patterns (see the “Kiwi” style).
And he’s only 16.
Earlier this fall, the poised teenager launched his own line, VOLUME, Inc., after combing the racks of major brands catering to high schoolers. He couldn’t shake the sticker shock.
“They regurgitate collection after collection of similar, premium designs at prices that are just outrageous,” Ahmad said.
VOLUME, by contrast, offers apparel at prices under $30. Ahmad designs each piece and hires a manufacturer to construct the finished product.
The business-savvy high school junior recently chatted with the Libertyville Review about his approach to the industry and what he’s working on this season.
This is an edited version of the conversation.
Q. In early October, you took the wraps off VOLUME, Inc., with six pairs of shorts for men and women. What lessons have you learned so far?
A. “Every step really counts in establishing the company from the ground up. You really have to pay attention to detail and the way that it’s made. I think the focus that I’ve put into the product is something that I’ve never really done before. It was something that I really had to huncker down and think about this is going straight to the public. People are wearing this. This is a tangible item. And my mission is to bring quality without sacrificing anything else. I’ve learned a lot about value.
Q. Describe your style.
A. I like to keep it casual, but at the same time not too casual. It??s kind of a mix between the two. I’ll wear a trench coat with these colorful shorts. Essentially, that’s like a contradiction. I kind of like to keep it best of both worlds. You know, not too uptight, but not too lazy.
Q. You just debuted the “Comfy Pant,” an upscale spin on the sweat pant. These look they can be worn outside the gym.
A. It’s a comfortable sweat pant, but it has style in that it’s stitched just like a khaki pant. It features a zipper and a button along with two pockets, and it feels like a sweat pant. You just throw these on. You look good, and you feel good.
Q. Your models are students from Libertyville, Vernon Hills and Carmel Catholic high schools. Why?
A. I think that’s part of it, bringing the community in, having them support you. There’s no one better to help. They’re my peers. They’re my friends. I wouldn’t choose anyone else for the job.
Q. How has Libertyville High School prepared you?
A. My classes just keep me on my feet (Ahmad is enrolled in advanced placement physics, among other rigorous courses). All my teachers, the administration — they’re really supportive of any extracurricular activity. Obviously, not everything you learn in the classroom is going to be relevant, but it really keeps me sharp.
Q. What’s next for VOLUME?
A. I’m going to hit everything, starting with what you put on: pants, shirts, sweatshirts, all that. The important thing to remember is that whenever I release a product, there would be a lot of thought behind it in terms of innovation, in terms of how this will be valued.
Q. What was your reaction when you first saw your classmates wearing your looks?
A. It’s inspiring. It just makes me want to keep doing what I do and keep building great things.