Triple Threat: Meet the Team that is Taking Maroon Weekly to the Next Level

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Since its inception in 2004, Maroon Weekly has been the go-to publication for community, commerce, and culture in the Bryan-College Station (BCS) area. Maroon Weekly began as a vision, a vision that founder Andrea Maynard saw as a need in this community for a publication that catered to students but was independent of Texas A&M. Turning a vision into a tangible product, Andrea launched Maroon Weekly in the style of an alt weekly publication that you might find in a larger metropolitan area; i.e. the Houston Press, Dallas Observer, and Austin Chronicle.

Penning and printing an average of 30 issues per year, the publication quickly gained traction within the community with a loyal reader-base and businesses who found the paper as a valuable tool to reach their clientele. With no shortage of happenings in the ever-growing metropolis of Aggieland, Maroon Weekly had found its place in the market with no intention of slowing down.

New winds blew through town in 2012. College Station was suddenly flooded with an abundance of southern charm and hospitality as Texas A&M made its move to the Southeastern Conference. Change was in the air, and Maroon Weekly bore no exemption as the publication’s current owner, Chris Shepperd, made his move in purchasing the paper after serving as the Editor-in-Chief for the previous two years.

With a more-narrowed focus, Chris shifted the direction of the paper to feature more art and entertainment content of what was happening around town and throughout the community. With a renewed approach and diving deeper into providing an avenue for local business to reach consumers with the creation of the Best of BCS competition, Maroon Weekly saw tremendous growth and more untapped potential throughout the next four years.

Bringing us to the present day, it’s once again time for a shift and a new season for this storied staple of Aggieland. Without losing focus on the events and community involvement aspects that has established the paper’s identity as it’s known today, Maroon Weekly envisions an enhanced effort in developing its connection to the local business community and renewing its position as the go-to resource for community and commerce in BCS. This new vision brings a new partnership to the table, with no better way to enhance an effort to connect with local businesses than to add two well-established business owner’s to the Maroon Weekly team.

Enter, Zach Morgan and Chance Okonski.

 

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The journey to College Station and Texas A&M was rather circuitous for Chris. After attending a junior college in his hometown of Tyler, TX for three semesters, he quickly realized school may not be his calling. He spent the next four years working random jobs, starting his own company, and trying to figure out some direction in his life.

Those four years led him back to junior college where he would spend another three semesters discovering his passion for journalism and communication. He became the Editor-in-Chief of the junior college newspaper, focused on his grades, and built his GPA so that he could transfer to Texas A&M. Once he arrived at A&M he was introduced to Maroon Weekly by one of his teaching assistants.

After deciding to write for the publication he was given his first writing assignment. Little did he know, that story would be the cover story for the next issue. Chris spent the next two years working various jobs with the publication.

After taking a brief break from Maroon Weekly to get married and start grad school, the founder of Maroon Weekly, Andrea Maynard, called Chris and asked him to consider coming back to run the publication as the Editor-in-Chief. He was excited for the new challenge and poured himself into the task.

One of the biggest things to come out of this season with Maroon Weekly was the Best of BCS awards.

In 2012 Chris graduated with his Master’s in communication and was praying about what was next. He reached out to Andrea and inquired about buying the publication. She agreed to sell it to him. For the next two years Chris expanded the Maroon Weekly brand. He started the intern program, he expanded social media and the website, he grew the team and worked to make increased connections in the community.

In 2014 Chris took a full time position as the College Pastor with Brazos Fellowship church in College Station. That is a position he still holds.

Maroon Weekly is honored to continue under the guidance and supervision of Chris Shepperd as Co-Owner and Publisher.

[/et_pb_team_member][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_team_member admin_label=”Chance” name=”Chance Okonski” position=”Co-Owner/Creative Director” image_url=”https://maroonweekly.com//wp-content/uploads/2016/12/12-6-16-Issue-Edits-0058.jpg” animation=”fade_in” background_layout=”light” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” custom_padding=”|6px||6px”]

Born and raised in the Brazos Valley, Chance is a local entrepreneur with an eye for creativity and a passion for supporting local businesses. At the young age of 15, Chance started his career landing job roles with companies like corporate retailer The Buckle and fellow locally owner business Aggieland Outfitters. With drive and determination, Chance quickly moved up the corporate chain, dominating every job role that was placed in his path.

After gaining experience in the field of business and retail management, Chance set out on his journey with a mission to take over the clothing industry by opening his own menswear store, KIE Men’s Shoppe, in the winter of 2014. Named after his late grandfather Kie Okonski, the shoppe prides itself on carrying a curated selection of guy gear and an array of premium menswear brands, making it one of the premier destinations to shop in Texas.

Since opening the doors to his brick and mortar, Chance has since embarked on another journey by developing and designing his own line of unisex clothing and jewelry, appropriately titles the KIE Kollection. What has always been a lifelong dream of Chances, the clothing line is now carried in select retailers throughout Texas and has been featured on television shows like Jimmy Kimmel and Watch What Happens LIVE, making that same dream now a reality.

Outside of building his Fashion Empire, Chance also has made a name for himself as one of the Lone Star State’s up and coming Celebrity Stylist and Menswear Bloggers.

Using his style expertise to dress the likes of country music star Granger Smith and professional athletes like Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, has landed Chance on the covers of numerous magazines and countless menswear blogs throughout the world.

As the 28 year old’s career continues to evolve, his local connections and passion for supporting small businesses keep him firmly rooted in his hometown of Bryan/College Station.

His latest role here at Maroon Weekly is no exception, making us honored to welcome Chance on board as this publications new Co-Owner and Creative Director.

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Originally from Florida, Zachary escaped the crumbling economy after graduating High School with a vision and dream to make a name for himself outside of his hometown of Vero Beach. With a big heart and outgoing personality, Zachary set his sights out on the great state of Texas where he found himself working 5 jobs, including being a porter at The Zone where he recycled cans and scrubbed toilets.

While studying Marketing at Blinn, Zachary discovered a developing new industry that was yet to be mastered. With a passion for helping others, technology, fashion, and recycling, Zachary began teaching himself how to build the iPhone 3G from scratch and developed a system to recycle every part of every iPhone he touched. In December 2010, after taking a semester to master this new craft and memorizing every screw, shield, and pad to the iPhone, he began lending his services to whomever was in need. He quickly became so busy that he decided to go “all in” to grow the business and take care of his customer’s needs.

Top notch customer service, branding, and countless hours focusing on improvements made it easier for other successful local business owners in town (Jeremy O’Sullivan of Hungry Howies Pizza and Jesse Chahal of Fatty’s Smoke Shop) to help him establish the reputation as the “go to guy” for iPhone and iPad repair in Bryan/College Station. Six years later Zachary’s hard work and dedication has paid off allowing him to build and operate his very own brick and mortar phone repair business where he has since fixed and built custom colored iPhones for many celebrities. (Johnny Football, Jake Miller, Riff Raff, Jerome Jordan, Coach Sumlin and more). Located off Texas Avenue right here in College Station, Sour Apple Repair has widely become known as the industry’s leader in iPhone and iPad repair and has recently expanded to Computer Repair. Voted by our readers as the Best of BCS three years running. This is proof that he has developed a great team of experienced and knowledgable staff that are eager to help the community in any way possible.

Now armed with a new and innovative app for scheduling iPhone repair and the addition of Pick Up and Delivery iPhone Repair Service, Zachary has no intention of slowing down the expansion of his dreams and vision for the Sour Apple Repair brand. Here at Maroon Weekly we are excited to see those same dreams continue to become a reality for the young entrepreneur and gladly welcome Zachary “Z-Mo” Morgan to the team as our newest Co-Owner and Technology Director.

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MW: This new partnership is the biggest change that has hit Maroon Weekly since Chris bought the publication in 2012. Why does this new venture make sense for each of you individually?

CS: The decision to move forward and make this transition stems from my ever increasing appreciation for local businesses. I love seeing the community and support that exists in BCS between local business owners. To see other business owners join together and really look out for each other, I want Maroon Weekly to be a part of that. When it was time to find the right partners, the decision was easy. I have known Zachary for several years. I have seen how he runs his business, how he treats his customers. I have gained a real appreciation for the way he handles himself. With the connection and friendship that Zachary and Chance have, it just works and made sense.

CO: When Zachary first reached out to me, I thought it was interesting. I have my own blog. I love to write. But I didn’t think it would be possible because we both have so many things we are involved in. When I mentioned that I was willing to entertain the idea, Zachary took it and ran with it. I knew what Maroon Weekly was because it has been such a staple in the community for so long. But I wanted to know more about what Chris and Maroon Weekly stood for. When we all sat down and met I felt like the dynamic between the three of us was so good together. We each bring something so different to the table, but each thing is so powerful. I quickly went from being pseudo interested in this project, to being very passionate about it.

ZM: It is crazy to think how we all got here. Early on I moved Sour Apple Repair from my apartment to Fatty’s Smoke Shop. Never in a million years, when my business was in Fatty’s and I had dreadlocks, did I think I would become business partners with Chris who is the College Pastor at Brazos Fellowship. We totally come from different backgrounds. But I have seen Chris do two things at once and I always admired that.

CO: That is totally Zachary. I went into this thinking there is no way this will work. But Zachary just kept encouraging me to hear Chris out. We just clicked. We have the same moral compass. We all three feel very passionate about what Maroon Weekly has been and even more about what it can become.

MW: Speaking specifically of the dynamic between you guys and how each of you is uniquely qualified, what makes this partnership ideal for Maroon Weekly?

CS: It is the expertise that we each bring to the table. I have been with Maroon Weekly since 2008. I know the ins and outs of the paper and our team. I know the pieces necessary to get the paper on the racks every week. I have always been very intentional about surrounding myself with people that are good at what they do. That team is the only reason Maroon Weekly has ever had a voice or seen any success. I have always looked at each person on the team and found their value and worked to give them an opportunity to succeed. That is why I love the dynamic that has been created with these guys. Chance brings such a creative approach and outlook. It is so much more than just fashion. It is his passion for the local business. The same is true with Zachary. Yes technology is his bent and he will add a lot of value there. But he too is passionate about the local business community. He makes connections and does the legwork and makes things happen. He goes out of his way to champion the causes of other business owners just to see them do well. The passion both Chance and Zachary bring to the table is what makes me so excited.

CO: Maroon Weekly is organically going to grow from this. Now there are three people, three local business owners that are working toward the same goal. It isn’t about getting people to look at us. It is about promoting what is happening in this community and taking an interest in the success and changes that are happening around us. We don’t think Maroon Weekly is broken or something that needs to be fixed. We just see an opportunity to come together and make it even more effective.

MW: What is being done to reinforce Maroon Weekly’s hold as the go to publication for community and commerce in BCS?

CO: If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. We aren’t changing anything. Maroon Weekly is going to stay the same great publication is always has been and is today. But even better. There will be additional content. It is a new direction with the same great vision that Maroon Weekly has always had. By adding two new partners it is just making Maroon Weekly that much better for our readers and this community.

ZM: We want Maroon Weekly to be accessible to everyone. If you are a student, if you are a business owner, anyone that lives in BCS and is looking for something to do with your weekend, we want Maroon Weekly to be the spot everyone looks to. We want to get in front of people however we possible can.

CO: Another great thing is that Zachary and I bring a whole new set of connections to know what is going on in this community. Chris and the team at Maroon Weekly have done a great job of staying connected. But the more people and connections you put together, the more access you have to events, businesses, people. That directly affects our readers.

CS: The biggest thing is that we are expanding Maroon Weekly. We already are in 200 plus locations each week. We have incredible relationships with local business owners. I love walking into a business and seeing someone pick up the newest copy of Maroon Weekly. That is so satisfying for all of the hard work and dedication our team puts into making each issue valuable. You can continue to expect all of those things and more.  We aren’t changing who Maroon Weekly is. We are just offering additional opportunities for people to connect with our brand and stay up to date on what is happening in BCS.

MW: How is Maroon Weekly working to stay connected to the local businesses in BCS?

CS: From day one, Maroon Weekly has always felt a special connection to the local business community. We are a part of that community. We are local business owners. I think that has helped us stay focused on making those connections and forging those relationships. As we look ahead into the new year, our team has already put together some great new ideas to highlight the local business community and shine a light on some people that are standing out. That really complements our Best of BCS awards. Best of BCS was created as a platform to give this community a voice. We intentionally created categories that were a little more personal. Giving people a voice to say who they think is the best at what they do in BCS.

CO: Best of BCS offers the community an opportunity to acknowledge and validate local businesses that are getting it right. You drive by local businesses like Sour Apple Repair and you see people promoting the fact that they won Best of BCS. It means something to them. As a business owner, for someone to acknowledge collectively as a community that you are the best in your category, it is a good feeling. Not everyone is going to walk around and tap businesses owners on the shoulder and say, “You are the best.” But with Maroon Weekly, we have the opportunity to allow the community to do that.

**Maroon Weekly will officially kick off 2017 with their launch party on 01.07.17. Stay tuned to our social media (facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat) to see some behind the scenes as we prepare to unveil the new look and feel of Maroon Weekly moving forward. We want you to go on this journey with us and we thank you for your continued support for the last 13 years. Cheers to the new Maroon Weekly.

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