Jack Of All Trades: Penn State Gymnast Creates His Own Clothing Brand

Competing in any sport at a collegiate level is a huge and challenging commitment, to say the least. Student-athletes follow a strict schedule day in and day out, juggling their practices and training with classes and other hobbies they may have.

Try managing all of that while also owning your own business. Penn State gymnast Josh Reinstein has been able to find a way to make the best of both worlds.

In 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Reinstein created his clothing brand, Walter Mitty.

Reinstein, who grew up in Buffalo, New York, has always been into fashion and designer clothing. In high school, he started his own mini-brand.

“I had a Shopify store, like, the most generic store, where I would basically put designs and graphics on random mock-up tees and hoodies,” Reinstein said. “I kept doing that for two years of just playing around and learning.”

Reinstein, a current senior, did gymnastics throughout high school, which proved to be a difficult experience for him due to a lack of the right coaching, guidance, or equipment.

“It was a very weird situation,” Reinstein said. “The coaches thought they were helping us, but we realized over the years that they weren’t doing much for us. It just became this really hard battle”

During this time, Reinstein would always find himself dreaming of something bigger, which is how he was able to come up with the name for his brand.

“Walter Mitty means someone who daydreams of a better life. When I was looking for the name of my brand, I found this term and chose it because it was something I used to do. I was like, ‘Damn, that’s crazy. I do that all the time,'” Reinstein said.

Reinstein got his entrepreneurial guidance from his father, who began his own physical therapy practice. Reinstein’s father was able to help when it came time to trademark the brand’s name, create a logo, and make an LLC.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Reinstein was given the time he needed to focus on content creation and production for Walter Mitty. With little to no social media presence, Reinstein started posting online every day to grow his business.

While starting out, Reinstein was able to learn more about the production side of a business. From testing samples and fabrics to reaching out to manufacturers and suppliers, Reinstein realized how tedious running a business was.

“We had to buy a blank roll of fabric, cut it to hand and come up with tags — that’s how like anything is made,” Reinstein said. “There’s so many different people and companies that are involved. I didn’t even realize it required that much work.”

When Reinstein came to Penn State, his schedule filled up again with gymnastics practice, competition meets, content creation, and preparing for merch drops.

“It was the best decision I ever made to come here. I’ve always said, as much as a struggle it is constantly practicing, constantly doing gymnastics, I’ve gotten everything I’ve ever wanted out of it,” Reinstein said. “You know, it’s been great. I mean, it’s definitely a struggle and a lot to keep up with. If you’re doing poorly that week, you’re not competing. So, it’s a constant 24/7 competition, but it keeps you on your toes and keeps you pushing forward.”

One of the biggest struggles for Reinstein, which most college students can relate to, is time.

“There’s never enough time, but there never will be enough time,” Reinstein said. “It’s kind of just like controlled chaos.”

Despite this, Reinstein has managed to keep the ball rolling, especially with Walter Mitty. Currently, he is working on the third drop for his brand and hopes to continue releasing drops a few times a year.

Eventually, Reinstein hopes to see his clothing in higher-end stores and possibly even have his work showcased during Paris Fashion Week in the future.

“I would say that now that I’m dropping more and more clothes, is only going to get easier,” Reinstein said. “I would also say that having a clothing brand is very difficult. It’s all about the name and how people perceive the name and the brand itself. The most difficult part is just that slow build of like getting the name out there and keeping the aesthetic I want.”

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About the Author

Evan Halfen

Evan Halfen is a junior broadcast journalism major from Newark, DE, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. Evan loves all things Penn State, tailgating, being loud, just about any beach, and his puppies, Butterscotch and Wentzy. You can direct all your tips, roasts, and jokes to his Instagram: @evan.halfen or email: [email protected]

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