When Jared Loftus arrived in Baton Rouge seven years ago, he’d just graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and was eager to start his first business. He’d decided to come to Baton Rouge because it was the perfect fit with his business plan for a store selling custom-designed T-shirts for collegiate sports.
With LSU fresh off its 2003 BCS championship and with Loftus able to secure a location just outside the North Gates, his store—Tiger District—took off quickly and was soon expanded to more than double its original space.
The only problem, however, was that Loftus didn’t feel like he fit in.
“To be honest, the first year I was here I hated it,” he says. “My goal was to get the store off the ground and move somewhere else to open another store.”
Fed up with feeling out of place, Loftus began injecting himself into the business community. And the arts community. And the political scene.
He’s now co-owner of the Taco de Paco and Ninja Snowballs food trucks; the founder of a grassroots monthly art show called Stabbed in the Art; co-founder of Baton Rouge’s first “co-working space,” Entrepreneur Headquarters; owner of a social media consulting business, Socially Awkward; and a leading proponent of public transit as a Capital Area Transit System board member.
As for Tiger District, Loftus has since sold the brick-and-mortar store, taken it online and expanded it to include unique designs for 18 universities. Newly rebranded as College District, the business recently purchased the rights to more than 250 domain names and is poised to branch into T-shirt sales for the four major professional leagues, NASCAR and soccer.
“We’re looking to do some big things, and I think we’ll be leading that industry,” he says. “I want to see this become a business with tens of millions in revenue each year, and I want that to happen here in Baton Rouge.”