Alumni Spotlight: Stephen White and The Rat on Bull
After meeting with the owner of Bull Street’s hottest new boutique, one thing is certain: there is much more in store for SCAD Alum Stephen White, and The Rat on Bull is just the beginning.
White graduated from SCAD this past winter with dual master degrees in Design Management and Luxury and Fashion Management. Before coming to SCAD, he got his B.F.A. in Architecture and worked as an architect for nearly eight years.
However, after feeling pigeonholed and creatively deprived, he felt the need to go back to school and study the things he’s infinitely more passionate about: design, fashion and building a brand that could withstand the test of time. After looking at Pratt and Carnegie-Melon, he settled on SCAD for its, “great connections [and] notoriety for being driven in entrepreneurship.”
During his time at SCAD, White became close friends with Courtney Broaden, who was earning her masters in Interior Design at the time. Their friendship soon blossomed into a business partnership. Along with their third partner Anthony Thomas, an Army Veteran and avid lover of art, these three creative powerhouses made up the dream team behind The Rat on Bull.
Just 10 months ago, The Rat on Bull was merely a concept. This past January, White was working in New York for L’Oreal as a Digital Content Director, a job that he got from his work during a CLC program at SCAD. However, he soon realized that the corporate life was not for him, and decided to come back to his Southern roots to create something truly special and unique. 10 months and lot of hard work later, the Rat on Bull is now a Bull Street staple.
White is a firm believer that his time spent at SCAD is integral to his success and where he is today as a professional creative. One class that had the biggest impact on him specifically was his Fashion Promotion class. “I had to do a brand extension project. I chose a brand, designed a new line for that brand, and shot a film for it,” said White. White and his team designed a jewelry line for Iris Van Herpen, for which they shot a luxury, high-end editorial film. That film, entitled “Objekt”, went on to win a student Emmy award this past year.
“Design Management is really driven by innovation, graphic design and differentiating yourself from the market. That Fashion Promotion class combined with the fashion film I had to shoot is what makes the Rat on Bull what it is,” said White. White and his co-owners have no intentions of conforming to trends or offering the typical cookie cutter shopping experience. They are out to make a name for themselves, and they are well on their way to doing so.
By offering locally made goods, one of a kind batch items and outside of the box designs, The Rat on Bull set itself apart. They offer lots of handmade jewelry and accessories from local craftsmen. They are also an apothecary and an atelier, offering a wide variety of men’s grooming products. In addition, they showcase works of art by artists of the region in their store through monthly exhibitions.
In terms of the future, White is all about giving back to the community that has given so much to him. A few weeks ago, he launched a graphic design and brand strategy agency called Smith Hall, LLC. Working with Courtney Broaden again and Pat Crump, another SCAD graduate and the designer of the Rat on Bull logo, Smith Hall intends to bring new and distinctive brands like The Rat to Savannah. White wants to help creatives, especially SCAD students and graduates, to build their brands. Rat on Bull is now not only an inimitable retail space but also a design house. White and his colleagues are all evidence of what fervent dedication to your passions combined with an education at SCAD can do.