PRINCETON — Any successful entrepreneur will confirm that a key to launching a successful business is to find what makes you thrive. For one Princeton businessman, that key is his desire to share his faith.
Ryan Meadows, a 2013 graduate of Princeton Senior High School and a December 2017 graduate of Concord University, launched his apparel business, Trust Christ Bro, on Sept. 1. Within five days, nearly all his stock had sold out.
The T-shirt line, bearing the appealing logo “Trust Christ Bro” in either a boxed-in bold block print or a modern design that uses negative space to highlight the word “Christ,” is available in four colors (white, black, grey, and pink) and in three types (long-sleeved, short-sleeved, and a long-body tee that is longer in the back).
What sets the shirts apart is that they come with not only the message imprinted on the tee, but a daily message online. Meadows posts an inspirational, scripture-based message or blog on his business website, as well as his Trust Christ Bro social media accounts, which he has used to reach his audience for four years.
“I saw that social media had a huge presence in the world,” he said. “But, unfortunately, I was seeing a lot more bad than good. I just wanted to do my best to change what I could. In September of 2014, I created the Trust Christ Bro Twitter account to tweet hope and encouragement. I like using social media to keep up with people, and I wanted to try to change the social media atmosphere.”
The Twitter account has attracted 20,000 followers.
“People really need this hope and this encouragement,” he said.
Meadows said evangelist Greg Laurie inspired him to further use his social media platform for ministry.
“I went to Harvest America in Dallas,” he said. “And, Greg Laurie pointed out that we are the first generation ever with the ability to reach every nation because of the internet and social media. If these things exist, let’s use them to build the Kingdom is my thought. And God has opened doors with that.”
Meadows said his goal is to “put the name of Christ on apparel that eventually makes it to every state and to every nation in the world.”
“It’s such a simple call to action, just to trust Christ,” he explained. “The word ‘bro’ is such a popular word these days. The abbreviation, TCB, is catchy too. The slogan is a call to action.”
That call to action in the midst of disappointment is what brought Meadows to the fork in the road leading to this new business.
Meadows became a household name in Princeton during his high school years for his success on the basketball court, reaching the 1,000-point mark during his senior year. He went on to study pre-professional biology at Concord University, with plans to enter dental school following his undergraduate career.
Upon graduating last December, he completed the process of applying to his first-choice school. He had graduated with honors, completed an abundance of community service, and had a positive experience during the interview process. It was looking like he’d be heading to dental school soon.
The disappointment came when Meadows learned he had not been admitted to school. He had worked so hard for four years with one goal in mind, and now that dream was denied.
“That was the first point in my life that I didn’t really know what was coming next,” he said.
All he knew was to lean on the words he had been sharing with his online audience for years: Trust Christ Bro.
“It was time to take that advice for myself,” he said. “I had to fully surrender and trust Christ. I did some hardcore praying about it.”
When the dental school door closed, another door opened for Meadows—a door at Lifeline Church. He felt the pull to pursue ministry, a calling he had already heeded with his online ministry years earlier. He began taking ministry courses through the Lifeline U program.
When his idea for a clothing line took hold, he knew it was to be more than just a brand. It would also be a part of his ministry.
“It’s a unique way to share the gospel,” he explained, adding that it would be his way to fulfil the Great Commission of spreading the gospel to every corner of the world.
To make his goal a reality, Meadows enlisted the help of a friend, Jacob McKlarney, who oddly enough had been a great rival of his on the basketball court during their high school years when McKlarney sported a James Monroe High School team jersey. Now friends, the two have become teammates to produce a hot product, with Meadows designing shirts and McKlarney contributing his skills to make the graphics come alive on a computer screen.
In addition to his ministry classes and his new clothing line, Meadows works for his family storage facility business. He manages his father’s Athens and Glenwood facilities, J & M Storage, and his Oakvale Road facility, Mountaineer Mini Storage. Meadows attributes his successes to his parents, Joe Meadows and Linda Meadows, as well as to his sisters, Toni Phillips and Erica Powell.
“My immediate family gave me so much support in getting my degree and then encouraging me when I felt like I didn’t know what I’d use it for,” he said. “They’ve always encouraged me in whatever I wanted to do.”
He also credits his mentor and friend, Aaron Stepp, Youth Pastor at Lifeline Church, with being a positive influence on his decisions.
“He’s been a best friend and role model in my life since I was 15 or 16 years old,” he said. “He has poured into and discipled me and shown me what it truly means to be a disciple of Christ.”
Meadows said he is also grateful for the support of several close friends who have been involved in photoshoots for the apparel and in providing feedback for the brand: Chandler Cooper, Bryce Radford, Hannah Akers, Haileah Pickles, Destiny Meadows, and Ansel Ponder. Ponder is also a founder of a local small business, 3Up2Up, referring to the shapes of three and two fingers held up, which create the symbol of the “WV” for our state.
Meadows said the launch of the line has been beyond what he had imagined and he’s working on another order of apparel to meet the demands of his customers.
To learn more about the Trust Christ Bro line of apparel, to place an order, or to read the Trust Christ Bro blog, visit www.trustchristbro.com, @TrustChristBro on Twitter or Instagram, or Trust Christ Bro on Facebook.
— Contact Jeanie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.