The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

The student news site of The Harker School.

Harker Aquila

Winged Post

Ajit Punj and Justin Shamlou start PUML Clothing


It all started with a simple favor. All Ajit Punj (12) wanted was some help from Justin Shamlou (12) in designing a t-shirt for an upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) match he was planning on attending. From that favor came an idea, and from that idea emerged PUML, a Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) clothing company started by these two seniors.

The name of their company, PUML, was derived from combining two letters of each one’s last name. The logo was designed as a fist with some distortion and the name of their company on the knuckles.
“I had trouble photoshopping, and I knew Justin was really good at it, so I asked him,” Ajit said. “He made a bunch of designs, […] and we took them into this MMA shop.”

At the MMA shop, Hardcore PRO Fighter shop in the Oakridge Mall, the two found out that their designs were already copyrighted and decided to start fresh.

“We went back to the drawing board and we restarted the process, so then I came up with what is now our name and logo,” Justin said.

“We actually sold out of that shirt,” Justin said. “We’ve gotten a lot of really good criticism about it.”

Ajit and Justin started the company with a $300 loan from Justin’s father and also used some of their personal savings, just to get started.

“[I gave Justin the loan] because the way that Justin came up with the idea was very creative and showed initiative on his part to come up with something outside of his academic and athletic activities,” said Nick Shamlou, Justin’s father. “What impressed me and what made me give him the money up-front is [the fact that] he took initiative in something outside of his day-to-day life, which is something that made me very proud.”

The shirt-making process consisted of several steps: they start by creating a design and taking it to the MMA shop in Oakridge, where they narrow down which designs could potentially be popular. They then send the shirt design to a manufacturing company called West Coast Designs, and when they receive the finished product, they ship out the shirts to the store and whoever purchased them online.

“We made a lot of mistakes too, but right now we’re at a point where we have made up for our losses, and we’re doing great,” Ajit said.

Having started last March, they felt as if they have gotten much accomplished and are contemplating on whether or not they should expand their horizons by adding more apparel to the brand.

“We’re doing another shirt, coming out soon, which is a variation of the logo and incorporates kind of a seal or badge kind of thing,” Justin said. “It is more traditional than the other one.”

The two also designed a tank top, directed mainly towards females.

“They sold out the day that we got them, even though we got a small amount,” Justin said.

They also talked about introducing sweatshirts to the company.

“The one problem with sweatshirts is that they are really expensive, and we don’t know much of the demand for sweatshirts yet,” Ajit said. “Now we’re just trying to work on branding- we’re not going to really diversify until we become established.”

As for becoming established, Ajit created their website, along with a Facebook page and a Twitter account. They also recently added a new member to the PUML family.

“We recently just brought on Rishi Bhatia (12) […] he wanted to help out with advertising and stuff,” Justin said. “We don’t know where he’s going with that yet because he just joined two weeks ago.”

They have found that their main audience consists of high school students.

“You meet people from different events, […] and people that we know in the area, and there are also kids from outside of school [who have bought a t-shirt],” Justin said.

One reason for their success and growth is the recent rise in popularity of the sport itself.

“Now is a perfect time to get in because MMA is one of the fastest growing sports in the world,” Ajit said. “Also, San Jose and Vegas are two of MMA’s biggest hotspots, so we’re in the perfect place to start this company.”

Continuing this company as a profession is something they both joke about, but they definitely want to keep it going for as long as they can.

“Right now, we’re just trying to stay above water,” Justin said. “We’re taking the approach of wait and see, and see where we can go with it.”

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