By Annie Rhoades
Recent graduates are fortunate to find a job they love, but few are able to boast having two jobs they are equally passionate about. Meet alumni Steven Nelson (BA 10) and Jason Welch (BBA 08), regional admissions counselors for the University of Mississippi and owners of The Good South clothing company.
Both Steven and Jason fell in love with Ole Miss and knew after graduating high school they would move to Oxford.
“I applied to several different schools in the SEC and after visiting Ole Miss I just knew,” said Nelson. “The atmosphere is extremely unique.”
After an exciting four years at the university, which included a stint as Colonel Reb during the 2009-10 school year, Nelson, a member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity, was reluctant to leave the college he had become so attached to.
“I was very sad about leaving Oxford so when the opportunity arose to work at Ole Miss after graduation, I jumped all over it,” said Nelson, a native of Hattiesburg. “I could see myself living in Oxford for the rest of my life.”
Welch, originally from Mendenhall, echoed the same sentiments as his friend and business partner.
“I was working as a student worker in the Dean’s office in the School of Business Administration and just loved the whole environment at Ole Miss,” said Welch. “Sue Hodge (93) suggested the admissions counselor job to me and thought it would be something I would really enjoy. Luckily I got the job.”
Throughout their travels as regional admissions counselors for the university, the two found a common need among college-bound students for scholarship money.
With a mutual love of the Southern lifestyle and culture, as well as a desire to give back, The Good South was created.
Formed on July 20, 2011, The Good South is an online retail store that includes t-shirts and hats, but primarily specializes in bow ties.
“We chose the products that we have, specifically the bow tie, because it’s a quintessential Southern piece in men’s fashion,” said Welch. “I think many guys are intimidated by the art of tying a bow tie, but it really is a very simple task. We say at The Good South if you can tie your shoes, you can tie a bow tie.”
Equally as important as the products The Good South sells is the scholarship fund created by donating a portion of the company’s yearly proceeds and conducting various fundraising projects throughout the year.
“What’s really neat about the scholarship aspect is that we’re looking for well rounded applicants who not only excel inside the classroom but outside,” said Nelson. “We feel it’s equally important for students to be leaders and really have a passion for service. Under Chancellor Dan Jones’ (MD 75) leadership, Jason and I always had a passion for service, so that’s one of the things we’re looking for in scholarship recipients.”
The company’s website features a variety of information from scholarship fund details and bow ties to a blog and style guide.
“We’re working on a style guide that we hope to put out monthly to help people pair our bow ties with clothes,” said Welch. “Our bow ties are hand sewn in the South and they’re button adjustable, which makes for a very unique design. It allows our customers to mix and match bow ties for different looks.”
With an eye for detail and a desire to make the online shopping experience as personal as possible, Nelson and Welch put great care in to each package that is shipped out.
“Every person who makes a purchase receives a handwritten letter thanking them for their purchase, but also thanking them for contributing to The Good South Scholarship Fund,” said Welch. “We also ship products in a brown shopping bag from the store, so when they open the package it’s just like they’ve visited the store.”
The two have put in a lot of hard work and long hours on their own to make the company a success, but they know it would not have been possible without assistance from the wealth of resources the university offers.
“We were able to take advantage of the Mississippi Small Business Development Center on campus, and the law school provided us with legal advice,” said Nelson. “We definitely wouldn’t exist as a business without the help and support of others, specifically from the Ole Miss family.
While the two enjoy their jobs as regional admissions counselors for the university that has given them so much, they would be thrilled to see The Good South grow.
“We’d love to be sold in stores all across the South and really have the opportunity to provide multiple scholarships to college bound students,” said Nelson. “To have the opportunity to work for The Good South full-time would be a dream.”