“Lead with your heart, and your feet will follow.” That is the philosophy by which Devin O’Dea lives his life.
Three years ago, he decided to forgo medical school, to which he had already been accepted, and went into business with his friend and Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity brother Mo Elliott, who was going all-in with Fayettechill Clothing Co., mainly a T-shirt company at the time.
O’Dea was disenchanted with the evident realities of the medical industry, versus his initial dream of being a physician who helps people, but that was not the only reason for his decision.
He was also helping Elliott with the business — especially marketing and social media — and noticed people were enthusiastically embracing the concept of promoting a laid-back, outdoorsy lifestyle and the beauty of the Ozarks through a casual clothing line.
“I was feeling a lot of fun and excitement around that,” he said. “I thought, I don’t know how I can go back to sitting under fluorescent lights for 60 hours a week.”
So, he didn’t. In November 2012 he took on his current role at Fayettechill, where he handles media and marketing. Among other things, he’s the guy in charge of promotional videos and remote photo shoots, who writes the blog, and who posts behind-the-scenes glimpses, in addition to inspirational quotes alongside photos of idyllic outdoor scenes, on social media.
He deliberately stays out of the business side of things, to avoid being driven by profits. He sees Fayettechill as a community movement as much as it is a company. “It’s equally important to me that [customers] share [their] stories that they share dollars,” he said.
O’Dea grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He earned bachelor’s degrees in biochemistry and philosophy in 2012 from the University of Arkansas, and minored in classical studies, studying Latin for four years.
He is also project director of Tibetan Tees, a nonprofit collaboration with the UA’s Tutors for Tibetan Children and Students for a Free Tibet. The initiative aims to raise awareness about exiled Tibetans living in India, and it employs the individuals to manufacture the shirts.
O’Dea said most pieces are in place, and the program lacks only a few hundred dollars for a sewing machine to kick off the project.