Small Business Spotlight: Derek Holmes ’12

25 Thoughts

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Photo of Small Business Owner Derek Holmes Jr.

To kick off Small Business Saturday, we’re shining a light on a few small business owners from our official UCF alumni Business Directory! Meet alumnus Derek Holmes Jr. ’12, owner of 25 Thoughts.

What inspired you to start this business?

I started my company in January 2018 as a greeting card company after failing to find a holiday card at the store that represented my wife and I’s culture. I had always wanted to start my own business from scratch and through various roles in corporate America, I felt I had the knowledge and skills to sell any product. I just needed to find/develop a product of my own. At the time (and possibly still to this day), there was a nice market in diverse greeting cards being available to the public in gift shops. I added passion to skill and decided to build 25 Thoughts as my “baby” on the side.

What is the best part about running your own company?

Creativity! I believe it was Dr. Dre who said, “You can’t put a price on a peace of mind.” As long as I have that peace of mind, I feel I’m creative enough to accomplish anything. I’m not sure what the future holds, but what I can tell you is that as long as I control the creativity of 25 Thoughts, the opportunities and offerings will remain limitless. At the end of 2018, maybe 3-4 stores carried my greeting cards. At the time of this interview, I have deals and/or store placements in over 30 stores and organizations across the country. Today, my products include cards, apparel, accessories, and even drinkware!

What is your mission statement or goal?

The goal is to be the premier regionally themed merchandise designer and supplier while expanding the philanthropic reach to regions and markets that carry 25 Thoughts products.

T-shirt display in Children's Museum of Indianapolis from UCF alum's small business 25 Thoughts

T-shirts by 25 Thoughts on display at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.

What was the biggest thing you learned during your time as a Knight that you apply to your life today?

I would say networking and utilizing resources. Personally and professionally, I think these two things are life skills that you will need almost daily. I’m forever grateful to the people, both students and professors, that I got to interact with at UCF. It’s why I didn’t hesitate to accept when presented with the idea of an annual scholarship to UCF Sports Business Club. The resources provided at UCF helped launch my career and if I could contribute in any way to help the next generation, especially students who may not have those resources or connections otherwise, awesome!

Why did you sign up for the Knights Network Business Directory?

Utilizing your own resources is crucial. We are one of the largest universities in the country. As a small business owner, I don’t know where my next deal is going to come from, so why not sign up?

Display from UCF alum's small business 25 Thoughts

Official Super Bowl apparel designed and supplied by 25 Thoughts.

 ​How has the pandemic affected your business?

Right before the pandemic, I was starting to land museum stores and tourist gift shop deals with my apparel. Of course, with the limited traffic that those institutions and shops were starting to see, I had to get creative in reimagining how my products could fit stores or venues that were not closing. With that in mind, I started pitching golf pro shops, bike shops, and other high usage places that local residents would visit as opposed to tourists. 

Why is it important to support small business owners?

The “why” for me is that I believe supporting small business is making an investment in your community and your culture. You’re not just supporting dreams, you’re supporting the local economy, both now and in the future. Most small businesses start as one-man shows, but, through support, can grow to provide jobs and careers. On the other hand, when you think of the preservation of culture (demographic, regional, etc.), it’s mostly done through the support of small business.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?

In five years, I see my apparel and accessories in at least one locally owned store in every state and U.S. territory, with greeting card volume being at 25,000+ for the year. Four years ago when I started the company, I may have laughed if you told me I would design and supply official Super Bowl apparel, or have my products on display for purchase at museums in multiple parts of the country. I know where I started. I know where I’ve been, and I know where I want to go.

UCF Knights Network platform

Find more Alumni-owned Businesses on UCF Knights Network​!

UCF Knights Network is our alumni professional networking platform that promotes career and professional development, entrepreneurship, job opportunities, and mentorship. Once you’ve signed  up (it takes only a minute to do if you sign up with Facebook or LinkedIn!), you can access the official UCF Alumni Business Directory via the platform.

Add your alumni-owned business for a chance to be featured in our next small business spotlight!

This service is offered at no cost to our alumni, it’s simply a perk of being a grad! So, join today to reconnect with fellow Knights, support alumni-owned businesses, and expand your professional network.

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