Would 12-year-old you look up to you now? That’s the question Jared Zych asks himself often. It’s the question that keeps him honest to himself and his dreams. Because he’s been chasing his dreams since he was a kid when he would write letters and send sketches to companies like Nike.

cool people doing cool things - jared zych nolac nation
Image via: Jared Zych

You should always attach yourself to something bigger than you, because then it pulls you and you don’t have to push as much. If something pulls you, life’s a lot easier.

Jared Zych

Jared’s a Pittsburgher through and through. He graduated from Bethel Park and attended Duquesne for a while. He’s pro-learning but anti-academia and remembers the moment when he realized he could learn more by teaching himself. He asked a professor about when he applied something he was teaching, and the professor replied that he hadn’t. Jared thought he could learn just as well teaching himself theory as someone else teaching it to him. It’s the best decision he could have made because it forced him to put his back against the wall and figure things out.

And he certainly figured things out. Jared has succeeded in building NOLAC Nation, which is more than just a clothing company. It’s a lifestyle brand. Every piece he creates represents a moment in his life. If you ask him about the meaning of a piece, though, he’s hesitant to talk about it. He knows that people relate to his pieces in different ways, and he doesn’t want to take away from anyone else’s story by sharing his own. That’s part of how the nation has grown, because each person is taking what they need from it.

And the cool thing is that it’s all happened very organically. Jared believes he has been and will continue to be positioned where he’s supposed to be – man plans, God laughs. For instance, one of his basketball teammates from Duquesne was training for the NBA and loved his clothing. More people started liking it, so he started making more. Life is cyclical, and he’s learned that the harder he works, the smaller the world becomes.

And, guys, believe us when we say Jared has worked hard to reach his goals. He has struggled and sacrificed and gone through two years of having his life flipped upside down to the point of almost losing everything. But that’s just pushed him harder. He believes you have to embrace your struggles to learn from them and move forward – pain and discomfort are how you grow.

So what advice would he give 12-year-old him? Don’t ever stop dreaming. If you keep dreaming you might not get what you want, but you might get something even better. One of his dreams right now is for NOLAC to become a global brand…but it could also become something even better.

Oh, and 12-year-old Jared would be very proud of how things have gone – Jared has his first shoe coming out right before Christmas this year. When you try on a pair, pay special attention to the back of the shoe. It’s from a sketch he did when he was around 13 years old. Which is a testament to what can happen if you let things come to you and don’t force them.

Become part of the Nation online or by visiting the store front in the South Side.

This content was provided by a local, independent contributor to Made in PGH, a lifestyle blog.
Lauren Roberts

Lauren loves all things Pittsburgh and all things food! When she's not checking out a new restaurant, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, working on her photography, or out on a bike ride exploring the city.

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