Morgan, who friends call “Junior,” and Skelton took non-traditional paths to OCC. Morgan graduated from Willow Run High School in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 2001, spent four years active duty in the Air Force, and moved to Syracuse in 2006 for a position with the Air National Guard. “The military is big on encouraging you to pursue a college degree. I always liked fashion design, so I decided to come to OCC and take art classes,” said Morgan.
Skelton graduated from Cicero-North Syracuse High School in 2000, started taking classes at OCC in 2001 but admits he was a “less than desirable student.” Skelton stopped taking classes, worked what he called “a series of dead-end jobs,” and eventually realized he needed and wanted to return to college. “We all figure out things at different times in our lives. It took me a while, but eventually I understood what I wanted to do and how to get there.”
Morgan and Skelton met in 2008 in a Photoshop class. They also studied color theory and multimedia design together. Both were heavily influenced by what they learned here and the faculty who taught them. “[Art Professor] Jill Doscher was great at making me see things from a different perspective,” said Morgan. “I’d say to myself, ‘I never thought about colors like that.’”
Skelton needed life lessons and he got them from late Art Professor Nick Todisco. “He was very, very hard on me but it was tough love and ultimately very rewarding. He would have so many heart-to-heart discussions with me after class. He made me realize a lot of things about myself.” Todisco’s help with motivation propelled Skelton into becoming a better student, and gave him confidence he could succeed after college. “At one point I had real doubt about going into graphic design because it was over-saturated with people. I told Professor Todisco about it and he said, ’There’s always room at the top. Do your best and you will always find work.’ He was very inspirational.”
As Morgan and Skelton spent more time together both inside and outside class, they talked about joining forces in the world of fashion design. “It was really more of a joke than anything else,” said Skelton. “Then one day we said, ‘Why don’t we do it? Let’s make it happen!’”
Skelton and Morgan graduated in 2009. Skelton was a dual major in Photography and Art with a specialization in Multimedia Design. Morgan also earned a degree in Art and was just two classes shy of a second degree in Architectural Technology.
As they began working on plans for their clothing line they needed a name and a logo for their company. “We debated literally hundreds of names,” said Skelton. In the end they simply combined the names “Junior” and “Sam” to form “Junam” (JOO-num), and Junam Clothing was born. The logo selection process also included endless debate and options followed by a simple solution. They chose an old pocket watch that used to belong to Skelton’s grandfather. “He was an immigrant from Siciliy who came here and built an amazing life for himself. A pocket watch has a classic look,” said Skelton. “We wanted a timeless logo, something that would never look outdated,” said Morgan.
Junam Clothing’s first products for sale was t-shirts. They rolled out their line at the Syracuse Fashion Week Show in Armory Square in April 2014. “Some of the Syracuse Crunch players modeled our clothes. People from New York City were there buying our shirts. It was a great night,” said Morgan. Their next release will be bow ties, and their long term plans are to roll out a few new items each season. “Our goal is to be like Express or Ralph Lauren. We want to design clothes that are nice enough to wear to the office and also wear out afterwards and not feel too dressy,” said Skelton.
Morgan and Skelton’s latest fashions are available at www.junamclothing.com.