In middle school Quashingm “Q” Smith-Pugh ’17 cornered the market on candy by catering to adolescents with a sweet tooth.
Although the future Saint Mary’s marketing major hadn’t yet learned terms like “target market” or “return on investment,” he became an adolescent tycoon by building a lucrative business from his middle school locker—until the principal caught on.
At its height, he said he made between $100 a week to $100 a day selling candy bars.
“I’ve always had a mind for business,” Smith-Pugh said. “I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was young.”
Also as a kid, he revamped scrapped bicycles to resell to his friends. Never far from his toolbox, he became known as the guy who would fix bicycle chains at a reasonable price.
That drive to succeed in business stemmed from a deeply ingrained desire to improve his economic situation—you might say money was his movement. “The Money is the Movement,” in turn, became the first catch phrase used in a clothing line he developed a couple of years ago called “The Movement.”
Next came creating a symbol that characterized his slogan—an artist’s interpretation of the Monopoly man.
His first product was a T-shirt, which he started selling to friends. “People were feeling it,” he said with a smile.
When he transferred to Saint Mary’s last year to play basketball, “The Movement” moved with him, although the Twin Cities has remained his main target market.
In time, “The Movement” has gradually expanded to include sweatshirts, women’s clothing, “dad hats,” beanies, and more. He’s garnered a following, started a website, and created a social media presence—all in an effort to expand his brand.
People, he said, sometimes mistake the message as being too materialistic.
“Like with selling candy bars,” he said. “It was about being able to do for myself. Back then there were a few of us about the same age; we were all playing sports. We had to fend for ourselves and we helped each other out and stayed in contact. We called ourselves ‘The Movement.’ ”
Smith-Pugh said that several of his friends now have children, which only strengthens his message. “You need money to live, to take care of yourself and to take care of your family,” he said. “It’s about looking at where we came from and where we want to be in life. It’s about the drive and the direction we want to go. It’s about a better life.”
On his website, themovementclothing.bigcartel.com, Smith-Pugh describes “The Movement” as the process of life. “As young black men, we have to be able to beat the odds under any circumstances … to take that next step in the right direction and provide for ourselves and our families in a way that we can be proud of. With discipline, dedication, and determination, no one person can be held back. Keep it moving. After all, this is ‘The Movement’.”
It’s appropriate that the Cardinal basketball player has expanded slogans on his clothing line to include “What’s Your Hustle?” “Run it Up” and “Let’s Get to It.” The branded art has expanded to dollar signs and top hats.
So far, Smith-Pugh admits any profits are being reinvested in his business. During the summers, when he has more time, he makes a couple thousand dollars. But there’s never a point, he said, when he isn’t thinking about his business. And his marketing classes at Saint Mary’s—like international business, finance, and marketing—have been particularly useful.
“I’m applying everything I know and am learning in class to my business, and I’m applying my business experience to my classes,” he said.
“In the strategies class, we’re learning about putting more money into marketing. You’ve got to get your brand out, and social media marketing is free,” he said. You can check out his pages on Facebook (the movement clothing); Twitter (themovementclo) and Instagram (themovementclothing).
Additionally, he’s attended presentations by other entrepreneurs, hosted by the university’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “It’s interesting to hear the steps they took,” he said. “To hear their stories motivates me.”
Smith-Pugh plans to continue his clothing line when he graduates this year. He hopes to find a job in marketing and sales and would love to find a position with an ad agency in California. Ideally, he would love to market for college or professional sports teams.
Chandu Valluri, assistant professor of business, said, “Q displays a passion for entrepreneurship and has made wonderful use of the educational opportunities provided by the Kabara Institute, the Business Department, and Saint Mary’s alumni to diligently work towards realizing his dream of building an iconic clothing brand. We look forward to what the future holds for him and are impressed with the progress he has made.”