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AJ Sepulveda’s Journey from Basketball Dreams to Inspiring the World Through My Story Apparel

AJ Sepulveda began a line of gym clothing inspired by his grandmother, “Grammy” Nowak.
Josh Farrington
AJ Sepulveda began a line of gym clothing inspired by his grandmother, “Grammy” Nowak.

AJ Sepulveda towered over everyone in his sixth-grade class, including his teacher. He was 6 feet 1 inches and seemed destined to play basketball. 

“Everyone was like, ‘Play basketball,’ and I was like, ‘Sure,’” he said.

He worked toward a potential career in basketball throughout middle school and high school. Countless hours shooting hoops at the gym seemed sure to lead him where he felt he should be.

Sepulveda is from New Jersey near Whitehouse Station. He spent nearly every summer going on trips with his grandmother, Anna Marie (“Grammy”) Nowak. She stood 5 feet 6 inches with locks of short, curly gray hair, strong faith in God, a spunky personality and a bad sense of direction.  

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“We’d get lost together all the time. She wouldn’t tell me we’re lost, but Google Maps would,” he said. 

No matter where Grammy’s trips took them, Sepulveda knew they’d have fun.

“Once, we went to Ringing Rocks Park. It’s a land of straight rocks, but we had fun because she made everything fun,” he said. 

Aside from road trips, he and Grammy also played basketball together.

“She always matched my energy, that’s why we got along so well. We’d shoot around, play HORSE and even tennis sometimes,” Sepulveda said. 

Grammy died when he was 15 years old. In memory of her, he got a tattoo of a cross with wings, and the roman numerals II XXI MCMXLVII, symbolizing his grandmother’s birthday, Feb. 21, 1947. 

“I encourage others because I want to carry on my grandmother’s legacy. She was always happy and upbeat, and she found the positive in everything,” he said. 

But when he joined the FGCU freshman class in 2020, his dreams began to pivot. He shifted his focus from basketball to entrepreneurship where he felt he could have a bigger impact through a clothing brand.

“One thing Grammy did really well was bringing people together. That’s what I’m hoping to do through my clothes,” he said. 

Within the entrepreneurship program, he connected with people like Scott Kelly, who is the Runway Program director at FGCU. The Runway Program is an entrepreneurship course that equips students with the skills to grow their businesses and pitch to investors. 

“As an entrepreneur,” Kelly said, “I unfortunately—or fortunately—got my education through hard knocks. So, my goal as a mentor and facilitator of the Runway Program is to help students avoid the pitfalls that I encountered.”

Kelly said that Sepulveda visited Kelly’s office intermittently throughout the semester with questions as he built his business. 

“Little did I know he was making all these crazy advancements with every question he would come in with. He’d come in for one piece of advice, and then he’d come back with all kinds of development and progress,” Kelly said. 

He has become a mentor to Sepulveda. 

“He’s developing his brand and creating through a lot of testing and validation. He’s building a consistent brand that people are now starting to recognize, and he’s getting things like sponsorships and other cool opportunities,” Kelly said. 

Sepulveda now has a successful gym clothing brand, My Story Apparel. Towering boxes of gym apparel lean against his wall as he sells to students on campus and ships out to others who support his message. Some of the messages on his shirts include “I play for God,” “him” and “Top Spot.”

Sepulveda’s mission is to put empowering personalized messages on his shirts to further everyone’s story, hence the name of his company. 

“I can be a voice through my platform for others who can’t directly speak up for themselves. The shirts give them an opportunity to share a small part of their story,” Sepulveda said.

But he wants to give everyone the opportunity to share their full story. He said he hopes to add a feature to his website to make that a reality for his visitors.

“My Story Apparel is not simply my story,” Sepulveda said, “but everyone’s story.”

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About the Contributor
Cristina Pop
Cristina Pop, Eagle News Assistant Opinion Editor
Cristina Pop is majoring in journalism. She is a new addition to our team of editors, which has been her dream since she started grading papers with her English teacher in 7th grade and writing for her personal Christian blog. Aside from writing, Cristina enjoys volleyball and sunset swimming at the beach.

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    Carol MayDec 13, 2023 at 3:30 pm

    Wow! This is wonderful! Your Grammy is so proud of you , watching over you smiling! I went to nursing school with her. & I know you miss her!
    Carol May