CC Designs, Chloe Ludwig’s (7) company, aims to capture days at camp or college filled with laughter and friendship through its unique clothing designs and accessories. CC Designs is primarily catered towards campers, Chloe said.
The company, which Chloe launched in fifth grade, creates graphic designs that can be printed onto a variety of items including blankets, masks, and stationary, she said. Customers can choose to create their own custom design or pick one of the sample designs made by Chloe, which typically incorporate words, symbols, or a combination of both.
Last year, Chloe donated $1,000 of the company’s profits to allow a young girl to attend camp for a week. Chloe worked with the United Jewish Association, a Jewish philanthropic organization that supports a variety of different efforts ranging from disaster relief to education, to decide where she wanted to donate money.
“They told me about a performing arts camp that also works with underprivileged kids to allow them to come to camp for a week,” she said. “This really spiked my interest.” Chloe hopes to donate more profits in the future to other organizations and projects, she said.
Chloe has always taken an interest in art, but her inspiration to start a business was ignited after seeing Caroline Kaplan ’19 selling products from Kaplan’s business, Task Me, at a showroom, Chloe said.
After the showroom, Chloe received help coordinating the logistical aspects involved in starting a business from her mother, she said. “[My mom] helped me test out different manufacturers and reach out to companies to get a wholesale agreement.”
Chloe also created an Instagram account, her primary way of promoting her business, with the assistance of her mother, she said.
Chloe’s family is supportive of her, and it is nice to see her that business brings her joy, her brother Zachary Ludwig (10) said. “Running a business teaches her skills that she can use in her future, so I think it’s really good for her.”
Chloe was surprised by the number of orders she received within the first few months of creating her business. “I was not prepared for this until the time came and I had to jump right into them all,” she said.
The process for custom graphic designs typically begins with a prospective customer commissioning a project either via Instagram direct messaging (@CCdesignsnyc) or email, Chloe said. “Usually I get a list of words special to their camp like the zip code, color wars team, [and] names,” she said. Chloe will then create a design fitting the parameters given by the customer on Adobe Create, which she will edit multiple times before sending it to the manufacturer to be printed, she said.
Chloe creates all of the designs herself but sometimes receives help from her parents with shipping and packaging, she said. She has three methods of delivery: by hand, pick-up, or shipping. If the customer is in Manhattan, where she lives, she will typically hand-deliver it, she said.
Although Chloe has always been creative, there was a learning curve when she first began to make designs, she said. Now, she often reaches out to customers for their feedback to improve upon her work. Some customers have recommended adding or omitting words, adjusting a design, or choosing different shades of colors. Chloe uses their feedback to advise decisions she makes with her future designs. “With each customer and with each critique my business keeps getting better and better,” she said.
Beyond improving the business from customers’ feedback, Chloe has also gained expertise from running the company. When she first began her business, Chloe struggled to find a manufacturing company and learned to watermark all of her work to prevent customers from taking her designs without crediting her, she said.
With the emergence of COVID-19, Chloe broadend her customer base by marketing her products to people of all ages. Typically, her designs included words related to camp, school, and college, but she has recently started to branch out into focusing solely on using images, Chloe said. “When camp was canceled, I pivoted to make masks, college designs [and] gifts for people and businesses.”
Sometimes Chloe gifts her products to friends and family as well, she said. When her brother Zachary graduated from the Middle Division, she created Horace Mann-themed playing cards for him and his friends, Zachary said.
The most rewarding aspect of running her business is creating a product that individuals will love and enjoy, Chloe said. “I get to give stuff that I’ve made to people and it makes them happy,” she said. “It’s also just really fun.”