Story by Lydia P. Robles
Photos by Ralph Freso
GCU News Bureau
Jan 3, 2021 … the day Washed Clothing was born.
On a car ride, God called to Jayce Candrea and spoke those two words to him.
Candrea has answered the call.
Washed stands for “Washed Apparel Serving Humanity Every Day,” and his startup business stands for buying shirts and giving them to people in need.
It is such a good cause, it had listeners in tears Friday as they heard Candrea's story, and students lined up to purchase a Washed Clothing shirt within minutes of the conclusion of the GCU Canyon Challenge.
Students were not the only ones impressed. The judges chose Candrea as the winner of $2,500 for first place in the entrepreneurial competition, sponsored by Trinity Capital, at Grand Canyon University’s Canyon Ventures Center.
Second place went to Panashe Bvundura and Nicholas Garrido for Toxic University, which provides vintage-inspired and customizable shirts, hoodies, crewnecks and more. It’s a hit among students looking to stand out from the crowd.
Third-place winner Joshua Helm provided a solution to inappropriate card games for family game nights. This is made possible through his startup business – The Bear Game, a family-friendly card game.
Candrea’s idea sprouted from his love for vintage clothing. Where graphics, colors, and designs might fade through countless washes, the meaning of words never fade.
“I fell in love with the idea of a T-shirt that means something, more specifically a T-shirt that you wash it 25 times and still want to wear anywhere you can,” he said. “That is where my purpose and drive to create a shirt with deeper meaning came from.”
The foundation of Washed Clothing is Acts 20:35:
In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
Washed Clothing’s mission is to “unite those in need with those who can give” as it seeks to combat homelessness.
Here’s how it works: Candrea goes to Goodwill, handpicks T-shirts, washes them and delivers them homeless communities. More than 1,000 T-shirts have been handed out in downtown Phoenix alone, and one of the recipients was Ray Lee Carter.
Carter, once a victim of homelessness, was granted an apartment through a state program. Candrea connected him to GCU CityServe, which provided him with bedding, appliances and food.
GCU is interested in hiring Carter, so Candrea helped him put together a resume. Carter might have a job by next week, further taking him away from a life of homelessness.
Canyon Ventures Director Robert Vera saw such a bright future for Washed Clothing, he was the first investor.
“I’ve heard a number of students say, ‘I need to weave my faith into my business.’ Jayce found a way to weave his faith into his work and is changing the world,” Vera said. “That is why it was an easy decision for us to invest in Washed Clothing.”
Another unexpected investor: Dr. Andre Tran, founder and President of John Harvard Academy, which provides college consulting to students, and a member of GCU’s Canyon Angels investor group.
“This is the company that truly resonates with me,” he said. “He’s young, very passionate, a designer, has the passion for selling, and his message resonates very well through the clothing.”
Sometimes, the process of solidifying a startup business includes barriers and setbacks.
“Fail fast, fail often, don’t be afraid to fail, be humble, know that what you’re doing as a startup is in fact an experiment – accept that,” said Tim Kelley, Assistant Professor for Entrepreneurship and Economics in CCOB and chairman of the Canyon Angels.
Candreas experienced this during the beginning stages of Washed Clothing.
“You have to trust God when working through God,” he said. “There was a time where I asked my pastor, ‘Should I put Acts 20:35 on the product? Should I make this a Christian clothing apparel?’”
“Well, if you say God is the reason why it started, then God needs to be the reason why it continues,” said Christ Church Pastor Kirk VanMaanen.
Candrea said this is the moment he understood his purpose and decided to push Acts 20:35 as the main message.
Tyler Baldridge, Student Director of the Canyon Angels, introduced a new contribution to the growing entrepreneurial scene at GCU, the Campus Founders Fund.
The fund invests what is typically a $20,000 check into student startup companies, taking a well-developed business idea and putting it into motion. The goal is to bridge the gap between GCU’s IDEA Club and the Canyon Angels by investing for future equity at zero cap and a zero percent discount rate.
The three judges – Trinity Capital’s Bryce Esquerre and Melana Ferguson along with Kevin Youngblood, Canyon Ventures’ Entrepreneur in Residence – chose Washed Clothing as the winner because of its business model and the solution it provides for homelessness.
That falls in step with what Colangelo College of Business Dean Dr. Randy Gibb explains as the essence of what makes a startup successful.
“A lot of people have ideas; this is not an idea competition, but an actual business model coming to life event,” he said. “Every year, the students continue to raise the bar. Their business startups are better articulated, operationalized with more in-revenue each year, as well as their community impact beyond revenue – they are living out the ideals of conscious capitalism via their purpose and stakeholder integration.”
The emcee of the event, IDEA Club President Kailee Jae, shared words of wisdom she heard from GCU President Brian Mueller.
“A value that we share here at GCU is conscious capitalism – putting the Christian worldview and business together,” she said. “At an advisory board meeting, President Mueller said that he wanted to combine the Christian worldview and the free market to create something amazing – resulting in GCU and amazing businesses like Jayce’s.”
There’s another benefit of creating a business like Washed Clothing.
“The best way to have a job when you graduate is to create one for yourself,” Kelley said.
In the high school competition, four startup businesses out of hundreds were shown on video while the judges were deliberating.
And for the first time, the audience of high school students visiting on a Discover GCU trip voted for the winners: Sienna Nordimer, Winston Peterson, Kyle Pedogarowski and Caleb Hughes of Village Christian School for Carbana, a portable, tent-like booth that attaches to the side of your car to provide privacy.
GCU Today: Freshman sews up victory in Canyon Challenge