Eagle Entrepreneur Balances Business, Birdies and Bachelor's Degree
Entrepreneurs at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
November is National Entrepreneurship Month and Prescott Campus student Jordan Garypie (’25) is busier than ever juggling an aviation-themed clothing business while studying for an Aeronautical Science degree and pursuing a passion for the links as a member of the Prescott Golf Team.
Busy though he is, the 19-year-old Michigan native took some time to discuss how he started his company, Pilot Quarters, and his experience so far as a student athlete at Embry-Riddle.
Tell us how Pilot Quarters got started
It was part of a high school project in AP Economics, just a simple idea for a business plan in our class. Originally the website was a totally different idea and just a T-shirt company as an attempt to make a Shopify store during the pandemic, when online shopping became a big hobby for everyone.
As time went on and I began to work on my private pilot's license, my dad and I noticed a lack of pilot-themed casual clothing and, with the help of my family and having spent my high school senior year in Florida, the idea for [sectional] charts on Hawaiian shirts was born.
How is the company doing and where do you hope to take it in the future?
A closer look at a Pilot Quarters brand shirt. (Photo: Jordan Garypie)
The company is growing slowly, though we have very large aspirations for the future. There have been many airline pilots, Air Force bases and a few flight schools scattered around that showed interest in the brand, so I don't think it is too far-fetched to believe that Pilot Quarters can be a household name in the aviation community across the United States.
We have had an array of special requests for individuals who want their local airspace on shirts, and our name continues to leak out into the aviation community. The recent article in Aviation Digest has been a huge step in growing our brand and the more exposure we can get the better. I believe the brand designs are improving and after just one year I was able to spot a handful of people at EAA Airventure in Oshkosh wearing our gear. To actually see people I have never met before who bought our product really opened my eyes to how successful this can be.
How do you manage to run the company and keep up with your studies AND your golf game?
The company has become a full family affair and my dad has handled a lot of the workload during the school year as he has more time to commit to it. We have invested a ton in both advertising and design help over the last year, though anything that includes personal requests or large orders I like to see what I can do to stay as involved as possible.
Helping to continue to run this company alongside starting for our golf team, keeping up with school, flying as much as possible, being a Young Eagles pilot and active EAA member and, most recently, an Arizona high school football and basketball referee, has kept me busy—though I am thankful every day for all the opportunities that I get.
Why did you choose Embry-Riddle for your Aeronautical Science degree?
I chose to attend Embry-Riddle because it provides a place to chase both of my biggest dreams: Becoming an airline pilot and playing pro golf. I had originally started my college search with the intent to play golf somewhere warm, and as I was slowly working on my glider pilot's license, I realized that I needed to do something aviation related in college or I would forever regret it.
I sought out the Prescott Campus after I found out that [Golf] Coach Kim Haddow had one of the best coaching resumes I had ever seen, and I also saw how much success the Prescott team had. After researching all of the degrees, I realized I couldn't sit and watch airplanes all day without flying, so my heart was set on Aeronautical Science and Coach Kim offered me a team spot I couldn't turn down.
How has your ERAU experience been so far?
Although there are things that frustrate me, I know it is just something that comes with college, especially with such a loaded schedule. The things that really help me affirm I am in the right spot are all of the industry leaders and recruiters at job fairs and at [EAA] Airventure. I know that I am in the best possible place for my future and although it may not be a big school in a big city, I am reminded daily that I will already be way ahead of the game following graduation.
Even though not many people have the same interests in sports that I do, I have found a small group of friends and roommates that I already consider as family and know will be lifelong friends.
What is your ultimate career goal and how will Embry-Riddle help you achieve it?
My career goal is either to play professional golf, fly somewhere that I can maximize quality of life, or a find a mixture of both. I can never decide truly where I want to fly and, until I am able to get hired somewhere, I don't know if I can decide. I hope no matter what I do, we can continue to grow Pilot Quarters and the family we have created with this brand.
Pilot Quarters is something we see growing exponentially and possibly look to grow to Embry-Riddle as well, whether it be with new flight instructor shirts or even selling in the bookstores on the two campuses. The possibilities are endless with this company.