Apparel Company Targets Stylish, Young Christians
After his 15 minutes of television fame, an entrepreneur tries to spread a lasting message
Tarek Saab’s first brush with fame came as a contestant on Donald Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice, earlier this year. He made it through 10 weeks on the program before the celebrity real-estate mogul looked him in the eye and uttered those immortal words: “You’re fired!”
Now, Saab is trying to make a more permanent name for himself with Lionheart Apparel, a web-based company that sells contemporary T-shirts adorned with ancient Christian symbols.
Saab and his partner David Colletti say they’re hoping to corner an untapped market: Trendy, young Christian men who are looking for a way to express their faith through stylish and contemporary fashion.
“We wanted to come out with a product line that encourages manly virtue in Christian men, which…I think is grossly lacking,” Saab said.
To further entice customers into being what Saab calls “men of action,” Lionheart donates 10 percent of its profits to pro-life charities. “We’re donating to a cause that we know is just, that we know is right,” Saab said.
Born in New Bedford, MA, Saab graduated from the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, and worked five years in the international semiconductor business before landing his stint on The Apprentice. The lessons he learned as a contestant convinced him it was right time to start his own business. “The greatest thing I walked away with was an added confidence,” he said. “I knew I could go out have success in other industries.”
Saab decided to sell clothing because he wanted to give Christian customers an alternative to T-shirts emblazoned with such heavy-handed slogans as “Jesus Rocks,” or “Jesus Is My Homeboy.”
He and his partner designed the tight-fitting shirts and emblazoned them with a religious message that is “both modern and respectful, one that doesn’t try to turn Jesus into a rock star,” Saab said. “The design is simple: Just a symbol on a piece of clothing,” he said.
The symbols on the shirts, which sell for $19, were inspired by the tattoos the budding entrepreneurs have on their bodies. Saab has a tattoo of a Chi Rohr, the first letters of the Greek word for Christ. Colletti has tattoos of a triquette, a symbol of the Holy Trinity, and an IHS, and historic abbreviation of Greek spelling of Jesus.
“The [symbols] have meaning to us; they represent an ideology,” said Saab. “Not only are they cool and not in-your-face, they’re [also] conversation starters.”
Their customers have already started lining up. Massachusetts resident Joseph Camm, 27, recently bought two of Lionheart’s shirts. A lifelong Catholic, Camm learned of the company through the Internet and was pulled in both by the design of the shirts and the message they send. “They really flipped the script and did something that made sense to our generation,” Cam said.
Saab says Lionheart plans to expand its inventory in the coming months to include polos, a request of older customers, and a women’s line, including maternity clothes. Saab hopes that this expansion is not the last. “My dream is that the Lionheart logos are going to be so common that you could walk down the street and say, ‘Hey, that guy is wearing a Lionheart shirt, he must be a Christian.’”