Every Friday at Florida A&M University, students flock to the core of the campus to mix, mingle and maybe support a local vendor at the traditional marketplace gathering that is Set Friday. It is during this communal gathering where one is likely to find Marquis Williams, owner of Rattler Apparel, standing behind his table selling merchandise to intrigued students and fans of FAMU.
“I came to Tallahassee and they were telling me something about this thing called Set Friday,” Williams said. “So, I end up coming to FAMU and I enjoyed it, I enjoy it, it’s something … its black culture,” he added.
Since 2016, Williams and his brother have been creating original FAMU-inspired clothing and selling their designs under their merchandise company Rattler Apparel in pursuit of their fashion dreams and hopes to provide FAMU with a new style.
“It started from fashion and ended up running and growing into a FAMU type thing,” Williams said.
A former student at Tallahassee Community College, Williams began his journey into the fashion industry on a whim after creating an original shirt that sparked interest and resulted in inspiring him to continue to create, turning a small seed of an idea into the fast-growing company it is today.
Small seeds like William’s have sprouted elsewhere among the FAMU consumer culture. FAMU alumni such as Ernest Nelfard continue to participate in pushing the FAMU culture forward. He is then founder of the popular social media platform RattlersUnited to showcase the FAMU lifestyle.
Caitlyn Davis, who is popularly known by her social media handle, “Caitthegreat_," offers FAMU-based apparel on her website.
“If there’s a demand for something and you can supply it, then that’s great. Business is business, (Williams) saw an outlet and pursued it and I think that’s fair,” said vice president of FAMU’s Entrepreneurship club, Chelsea Holloman.
“There should always be a way for students to make a profit on the side. If there’s a demand for it then people should be able to supply that demand,” she continued.
For Williams, the demand for Rattler Apparel has grown on the primary source for ordering, Instagram, to more than 7,000 followers and counting. With the growing popularity, Williams wants to extend the success of Rattler Apparel to FAMU students with big hopes of giving back to the community by providing employment, internships and scholarship opportunities.
“That’s why we opened a business so we can hire students, so we can create paid internships. Things like that we’re looking to do and thinking about sponsoring scholarships, something amazing for the students,” he said.
He wants to expand the brand to a physical store by spring 2019 where they can shift from being primarily online and establish a home base in Tallahassee.
“Everybody’s into fashion so that’s nothing new, but to be able to put out projects I feel like you need passion about it,” said Williams. “There will be some days where you’ll sell one T-shirt, or they’ll be some days where you’ll sell 50 and those days that you sell one T-shirt you need to continue to pursue to reach your pinnacle.”