Justin Juliano was just 17 in the summer of 2011 when he got the idea that the designs on beach tags used by Ocean City, NJ, might have some appeal to people who frequent that popular seashore community. He began to research other tag designs used by Ocean City since it began issuing the tags in 1976 and the idea continued to germinate.
He used the idea for his senior project assignment at Haverford High School in Haverford, Pa., and, with start-up help from his parents, he launched Tag-R-Up Designs with one item, beach towels with tag designs, which he sold online (www.tagrupdesigns.com). As the company grew, so did his line of products, which now includes pillowcases and charm bracelets.
In addition to using his website as a selling tool, Justin has wholesale customers, who resell his items in their stores, and co-op stores in Ocean City that carry his line, which continues to expand — "mainly thanks to customer feedback and family," he says. "When someone has an idea for a product, I am usually pretty quick to develop an image and create the product for my customers."
Now 21 and a recent graduate of Cabrini College in Wayne, Pa., Juliano still enjoys the beach in Ocean City, where his family has a summer home, but his vistas and ambitions have expanded. Responding to an email from the Shark Tank television show inviting him to provide information on his business and an audition tape, he made it to the second round of auditions "before my journey ended," he says, "but the Shark Tank experience was great and really taught me a lot about doing business."
No one can be sure what will be next on Justin Juliano's agenda, but you can be pretty sure it will be an interesting ride. He's currently looking at other beach towns in Cape May County that issue beach tags and "Cape May may be next," he says. He already has beach tags from some of the other towns that raise funds by selling beach tags to those who want to use their beaches.