He first sold candy. Then he sold tickets to parties – some of the biggest parties in the Valley.
Now, entrepreneur and social media influencer JT Holmes has added streetwear to his portfolio, selling t-shirts and hoodies straight from Phoenix.
In September 2020, Holmes started Modern Rockstars, an urban streetwear company. But his brand is just an extension of what the blue-haired, party-loving businessman has built over the past few years.
Since its inception, Holmes has sold over 5,000 oversized graphic t-shirts and hoodies. In February 2022, he collaborated with the Suns for Black History Month with a limited edition design. All 300 Phoenix Suns shirts sold out in the month at the Suns Team Shop in the Footprint Center.
I took a year, it already pays off tenfold,” Holmes said. “Who starts a brand and works with the Suns a year later? Who do this ? It motivates me.”
How Holmes went from selling candy to planning parties
His grandmother would call him P-Diddy, Holmes said with a laugh. But that’s just who he was, an entrepreneur from the start, trying to make money even in elementary school.
In second grade, he bought candy at Sam’s Club and wrapped it up to sell at school.
“One day I walked away with $150,” Holmes said, laughing at the candy he was selling in second grade. “I was always asking, ‘how can I make more money legally?'”
In fifth grade, he was designing t-shirts for his classmates. And when he worked in retail in high school, his friends lined up at the store to buy new shoes.
When he was 18, he moved to Arizona to study business management at Grand Canyon University. But to earn money for his tuition and living, Holmes started throwing parties for the students – and word got around.
“I went to Minnesota for spring break and my friends are DJing and throwing parties and I’m like, ‘I need to learn what you’re doing. So I started throwing parties, and GCU hated it.
Soon after, Holmes dropped out of college – and never returned.
Holmes has become a high-end party planner in the Valley
Holmes and his party planning partner, Luis Basilio, have made their mark on the Metro Phoenix party scene. In fact, a headline in The Arizona Republic from 2015 might have said it best: 2 college students conquer Twitter, earn thousands with 18+ parties.
The couple did just that in Phoenix, including their “Wolf of Wall Street” themed party at the School of Rock on Mill Avenue which drew more than 900 people.
Holmes threw bigger and bigger parties, and in 2017 he planned the University of North Carolina basketball team’s afterparty after the NCAA championship. Devin Booker, Trey Songz and Odell Beckham Jr. and Johnny Manziel were all there.
From dropping flyers at restaurants across town to running announcements while cruising on his hoverboard, Holmes tried to invite everyone in town to his parties.
He rented mansions for parties and booked rappers like G-Eazy, Juice WRLD and Young Thug for his events.
In 2020, he was invited to San Diego to plan a private party for the Lakers two months after winning the NBA championship. One of his favorite memories is meeting LeBron James and taking a picture holding the championship trophy.
Nightlife was Holmes’ life – until the pandemic hit.
From nightlife to making a Phoenix Suns shirt
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Holmes — who was still throwing parties across the Valley and the West Coast — said he needed to find a new source of income.
“I had money saved, but I didn’t have any more money coming in. I didn’t want to depend on the nightlife to make money.”
The search for rock stars became the next step, as did the design of his current brand, Modern Rockstars. His first hoodie – dropped in the middle of the pandemic – featured a skeleton with a quote that read: ‘Only the strong survive’.
Its shirts were more affordable than its competitors, which sold shirts for almost $80. Holmes sells his shirts for an average of $45.
“Everyone has to wear clothes. You wear a shirt every day, so I thought, ‘if I can make something you can wear every day, then business is good.’
How Holmes manages and operates Modern Rockstars in Tempe
Since his debut, Holmes has achieved six figures two years in a row, sold over 5,000 shirts with 45 different designs, and collaborated with the Suns and Modern Warzone. It’s a one-man show when it comes to promotion and design.
He currently sells his merchandise online and at four locations in the Valley, including Third Degree Heat in Scottsdale, Prime Kicks and Cuts in Chandler and Glendale, and Legal Trap Clothing in Phoenix. He also sells his shirts in Minnesota in the Mall of America at LMNTS.
All of his shirts are made to order. Once customers choose their designs, Holmes works with Flyers Direct, a print shop across the street from his home, to print his designs.
“I want to be that Arizona brand,” Holmes said. “I want to do collabs with everybody, so they can wear Modern Rockstars shirts. I want to create a movement of people who are confident and who are themselves,” Holmes said. “I’m a party animal, but you don’t have to be like me to be a rockstar. My mom is a nurse, she works nine to five everyday just to take care of her people. I’m ready to build a community that makes people feel good. Anyone can be a Rockstar.”
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