5 Questions with Francisco Escobedo, UCSB Student and Small Business Owner


Evelin Lopez

Q: What did you hope to accomplish once your t-shirt business, Aviators Airlines, began?

A: The whole idea began in high school when I was in art class and my friend wanted to start a business. He came up with the idea and I went along with it. I really liked drawing and painting so I figured it would be a good idea to go into the t-shirt business. The main goal we started with was that we wanted to put art out there. So it’s kind of like spreading art designs as well as the importance behind the design. We try not to be another t-shirt company that just prints words on a t-shirt. We have pieces that send messages. On the Aviators Airlines Facebook page we have the design posted with a sub-caption with the meaning behind the design. It is to spread information. Our first design was for the earthquake that hit Japan in 2011. Some of the money that we made was donated to Japan. That was what jumpstarted our business.

Q: How long did the preparations take in order to open the business?

A: It took us a couple of months to come up with the money to buy all the t-shirts and designs since it was all from our pockets. To make a t-shirt with the design, depending on how many colors we ordered, would be around $5 to $10. We would sell the t-shirts for $15, but after that everything came quick and we started making more t-shirts and then we kind of stopped when we graduated high school. Once we graduated high school we all moved to different schools and it became harder to communicate and keep the business going. Although we have not been as active as before we still have been printing more shirts and creating new designs in hopes of starting up again.

Q: Can the t-shirts be purchased online?

A: No, not yet. At first we had a Facebook page and people could see the designs on there and they would tell us since it was within our city. We also had costumers from our school and then we started to try to expand and we got some stores to buy some but we never had anybody to make a website for us. So I am taking a class right now to try to figure that out. Since I can draw, I am very good with Photoshop and the graphics will not be a problem.

Q: How are you planning to expand and promote your business?

A: We are trying to recruit more people since there are only three of us. I’m in charge of pretty much all the arts stuff. The creative side of the business. My co-partner Anthony Vargas, who goes to Cal State Long Beach, is in charge of the business and marketing aspect of it. Nick Frausto, another co-partner, is in charge of the expansion. So he’s talking to stores trying to figure out where it is cheapest to make the shirts. We are actually learning how to do it ourselves so we can kind of kill out the middle men as well as reduce the cost and make more profit.

Q: What advice would you give to future entrepreneurs?

A: Well, we had to start off small – so start off small. We started off with only 50 shirts in the beginning. Once you build up a small reputation and collect enough funds maybe people will help you and donate money. We had some people say they were before we stopped. If we start up again we already have the backup and support we need in order to expand Aviators Airlines.

Photo Courtesy of Francisco Escobedo