By Brett Milam
Cole Ciambro, who grew up in Milford and was a standout lacrosse athlete at the high school, opened his third business on Feb. 23.
He’s only 24.
But that Ciambro, a blend of his mother’s entrepreneurial spirit and his dad’s go-getter sell-this-pen attitude.
On the lacrosse field, he was one of the most sought after and touted midfielders in the state of Ohio. In 2011, he was named the Ohio Club Division Midfielder of the Year, along with other accolades.
His would-be coach at Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina, said that Cole was not just a terrific athlete, but a “person of high character.”
“Cole can play two positions – attack and midfield,” J.B. Clarke, the coach, had said.
It’s that winning personality that drove Ciambro to start his first business at the age of 19.
“Basically, I had started the Talawanda lacrosse program,” Ciambro said. “I had to raise funds because lacrosse is an expensive sport.”
Ciambro already had a Nike representative, but it was still hard to get players because of the costs associated. So, Ciambro started what’s called an online flash store, or otherwise known as pop-up retail.
The concept is a store will “pop-up” for a two-week period, selling hats, apparel and other items, and then it will disappear. It’s that sort of flash concept that drives business and drives customers to try to get the apparel before it’s gone.
This concept of an online flash store was called Pro Logo Shop in 2014 and by its second year in operation, Ciambro said it had exceeded $350,000 in sales.
The way it works is, Pro Logo Shop allows its users, wherever they are based, to create a store where clients then buy personalized clothing brands.
A 2016 graduate of Miami University, majoring in political science with double minors in business entrepreneurship and sociology of business, Ciambro really oriented his business towards the fraternities at colleges throughout the United States.
“We’re in every state in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, U.K.,” Ciambro said. “It creates a sense of urgency for the undergrads.”
Ciambro said the Greeks are an untapped market with a lot of potential.
In July 2017, Ciambro, along with his business partner, Chris Stefanou, 23, created the next iteration of the pop-up retail model, this time called Pro Athletic Shop, geared towards fitness centers and college sports club.
Within eight months, the business had generated $100,000 in revenue, according to Ciambro.
“Chris and I have been good partners,” Ciambro said.
Ciambro said that’s because they mesh up well: he brings the sales, customer aspect and Stefanou brings the finances and website aspect.
This latest company is called Chapter Threads, and what will distinguish this one from others is its focus on having a network of campus reps throughout the country. Ciambro said the goal is to have 600 campus reps within the next few years.
“My personality is go-go, relentless, persistent. I’m always doing more,” Ciambro said, about the need to start stuff and be creative. “I blame my mother.”
Ciambro’s mother started a direct mail company in her house when he was six-years-old. It’s now a $1.5 million company, he said. And it was at that young age, Ciambro said, that he told himself he’d never let anything stop him.
So, at six, he was putting together lawncare flyers.
Through the years, Ciambro said it was about representing yourself and your brand in a true “positive matter,” as well as being social. It’ll put money in your pocket, he said.