Triple Nikel, a veteran-owned clothing line, is more than just a brand – it’s an advocacy and an inclusivity-driven company that stands out with its unique clothing designs. Founded by four Army veterans – Ruben Ayala, Rod Graham, Christopher McPhee, and Curtez Riggs – the company’s name holds a special historical significance.
The idea for Triple Nikel came from the founders’ shared experience as paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne Division. During World War II, the 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion was the only airborne unit in which people of color could serve when the Army was segregated. The unit was also known as the ‘Triple Nickels,’ The founders wanted to create a company that amplified the stories of those who came before them.
Since its founding, Triple Nikel has seen enormous success and popularity among the military community. In 2022, the company announced that its clothing line had been picked up by Kohl’s, one of the largest retail stores in America.
According to Ayala, the launch of Triple Nikel in Kohl’s was an organic evolution. The amount of work it took to organize, plan and fulfill the initial order was tremendous. The founders decided to do the work themselves and became subject matter experts in product fulfillment. The first time Ayala walked into Kohl’s and saw their apparel, he was shocked. The Alwyn Cashe shirt, which pays homage to the first African American to be awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, was used as Kohl’s lead Veterans Day model.
The veterans celebrated this monumental success with more work. They received messages of congratulations from their family and close friends, gave each other high-fives, and returned to work. Distributing 26,000+ apparel items to 600 stores across America was a big deal, and the founders’ energy was focused on executing their business objectives for 2023 and beyond.
Triple Nikel has always been determined to avoid utilizing stigmatized visuals on their clothing, wanting a different approach that paid off. The future for this unique company is bright, with plans to fulfill another purchase order for Kohl’s and increase its store distribution from 600 to 1200 stores. The company has gained a wealth of knowledge and cataloged a list of lessons learned that they plan to implement in 2023 to refine their processes. The founders hope their partnership with Kohl’s will spark B2B relationships with other major retail stores like Target, Scheels, or Buc-ee’s.
Triple Nikel’s success is a testament to the founders’ dedication, hard work, and unwavering commitment to their vision. As they continue to grow and expand, they remain focused on amplifying the stories of those who came before them and making a positive impact on a nationwide level. Whatever the future for Triple Nikel, they will be ready to take it on with enthusiasm, dedication, and a unique sense of style.