When Adam Sinz ’13 was hawking his first line of T-shirts to classmates in high school, he never dreamed his designs would receive a professional endorsement.
Just five years later, Sinz’s business is backed by an NFL player. Antonio Brown, wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recently accepted a deal to endorse Sinz’ Amped Optics and design his own signature black and gold sunglasses.
While a junior in high school, Sinz launched Amped, which is now a well-known brand in the action sports industry. From a young age, he realized he had a knack for graphic design. He often designed and played on Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. “I had it on my computer,” he said. “I don’t know how or why or what, but it was almost a blessing in disguise.”
A local skate shop asked Sinz to create a logo when he was just sixteen. Although the design was never used, it was still an important turning point. “I realized I could do graphic design for other people, but I could also clearly do it for myself.”
He officially launched Amped Apparel with his first line of T-shirts when he was seventeen. The shirts quickly sold out among his high school classmates. “I definitely think that I was meant to be an entrepreneur. Even when I was a young kid, I was always trying to find ways to hustle some money, whether it was selling my stuff to neighbors or through a lemonade stand.”
His inspiration for the name Amped came from his background in motocross. “People really identified the brand Amped with action sports, which was the whole point. A word like ‘amped’ is appropriate. People say it all the time.”
Sinz raced Pro-Am, the highest level you can race locally, and used his connection to motocross as an outlet to sell his products outside of high school. “I was racing almost every weekend. We would go all over the place,” he said. “I would set up a small ten-by-ten tent and sell between my races and practices.”
While Sinz was able to create the brand and start a following, it was the knowledge he gained from his degree in business administration and marketing and the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) that helped him expand his brand.
The SU SBDC is an on-campus resource that is always free to current and former students and provides services to entrepreneurs who wish to start or grow their businesses. Sinz discovered the SBDC his sophomore year and started working with consulting manager Cheryl Young, who continues to help him with different aspects of the brand.
“I am always updating and tweaking my business plan, and if I ever have questions, I know who I can ask,” Sinz said. “The SBDC is great, and that’s one thing I wish more students would know about. …They are so helpful there.”
After Sinz stopped from racing, he devoted his time to traveling to as many action sports events as possible. Over the course of four years, he went from living out of a pick-up truck to an old bread truck to, finally, a full-fledged motor home.
The journey hasn’t always been easy. Sinz said after attending various events, he often realized at the end of the month that more money was spent than made. “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. It’s a different sort of life from your typical 9 to 5.”
He remains positive, though. Even if with minimal profit, Sinz said, “You still have hundreds of new people that have your stuff on, and they’ll go home and tell their friends and order off the website.”
With Antonio Brown’s recent endorsement, even more people are aware of the brand. Sinz called this endorsement a dream come true, because it has proven to be a huge turning point for the company.
“Attaching your name with an athlete of that status and caliber made some crazy moves throughout the community,” Sinz said. “It’s not every day that a small business from Lancaster County makes a deal with a top professional athlete.”
Sinz joked there is one negative to his company’s growing popularity. “I get ten times more spam mail. I don’t even know how it happens.”
Now, his goal with Amped is to get into as many retail stores as possible. He has been traveling to numerous trade shows, and his brand can be found in several retail stores.
While his journey to success has been challenging, Sinz encourages future entrepreneurs to pursue their visions. “I would tell any aspiring entrepreneur to go for it. …It’s worth taking the risk.”