CYstarters Spotlight: Raah Clothing Company

By Lindsey Murray | ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship

CYstarters Spotlight: A 15-part series highlighting student entrepreneurs pursuing their business ventures as part of the CYstarters 2023 summer cohort. Through this program, students have the unique opportunity to prioritize the development of their own startup or business idea. Each individual receives $6,500 and access to resources such as mentorship, networking opportunities, and educational sessions on entrepreneurship and business startup.

Canon photographed wearing the ‘Jehovah Raah’ t-shirt he designed for the Psalms Collection released for his clothing brand, Raah Clothing Company.

Andrew Canon, an Ames native and recent graduate of Iowa State University, is uncertain of what post-graduate life holds. There is, however, one thing he has been certain about since he was young. At age 12, Canon became a Christian, and the trajectory of his life changed forever. Today, his faith is at the core of his decisions and pursuits and is defining his path forward. With the end goal of sharing the good news that up-ended his life for the better, Canon is dreaming big with his latest business venture.

In the fall of 2022, as he began his senior year at Iowa State University, the idea of starting a business occupied only a small space at the back of Canon’s mind. Throughout his college career as a marketing major, Canon shared that he had gently considered pursuing several business ideas. One of those ideas being a Christian clothing brand. He began developing the brand loosely, but he found it very difficult to balance school, a job, and starting a business. Cashflow was also a problem as he wasn’t making enough money to actually produce his clothing. The business just didn’t seem feasible.

As he sat in his elective entrepreneurship course, strongly considering abandoning the idea altogether, he heard, for the first time, about the highly competitive CYstarters program offered by the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship. He was quickly re-inspired. Canon knew he had an idea that he loved and that aligned with his skillset and life mission. So, he filled out an application and threw his hat in the ring.

Canon was less than confident that he would be selected for the program. So, he began applying for jobs beginning the summer after graduation. As the job offers rolled in, he realized that each of these companies needed an answer weeks before the cohort would be announced. Canon saw this program as his last opportunity to keep his dream alive. So he fearfully declined all offers, in hopes that with high risk would come high reward. Thankfully, it did, as he was selected to participate in the 2023 CYstarters cohort.

Andrew Canon is now the founder of Raah Clothing Company.

Raah means “shepherd”. It is one of the many names of God and one that deeply resonated with Canon as he was deciding on a name for his company. He recently launched his first collection, ‘The Psalms Collection’, which includes products such as t-shirts and air fresheners. Each design features a bible verse from the book of Psalms and a meaningful biblical word or phrase written in English or the original Hebrew. His hope is that customers who purchase these products will wear them with confidence, boldly proclaiming the gospel wherever they go.

Landing page for Raah Clothing Company, designed by Canon. Shirts and air fresheners available for purchase.

With the help and resources provided by the CYstarters program, Canon has been able to dedicate his time and financial resources to building Raah Clothing Company. Over the last 8 weeks, Canon has created a website, developed a social media presence, and officially made his first t-shirt sale. Through customer discovery, he has been able to identify his target market and how best to reach those customers. “CYstarters is a unique experience,” said Canon. “Everyone is supporting one another. It’s great to be alongside like-minded individuals.” He has been connected with mentors and business owners in the area who share his faith and mission. They have helped him expand on his idea and are cheering him on along the way.

The long list of wins has naturally been accompanied by the many difficulties of starting a business from the ground up. His biggest challenge has been finding a manufacturer for his products. Because of this, the release date for several of his shirt designs continues to be pushed back, but he is not discouraged. He was quick to share how his involvement in CYstarters, and working with Megan Graettinger (Assistant Director for the program) specifically, has helped him to reconsider these obstacles as opportunities. Through his weekly accountability meetings, he has been encouraged to use the extra time before his product release to focus on marketing and brand awareness. He is hopeful that this will improve sales when the t-shirts are finally made available for purchase.

Canon frequently spoke about how fearful he was to put himself and his idea out into the world. Now, full of gratitude for overcoming his fear, he would urge his peers at Iowa State to participate in entrepreneurship opportunities provided by the university. “If you have a great idea and you’re passionate about it, pursue it,” were Canon’s words of encouragement to students. “I’m only halfway through this program and I’ve seen the fruit of it and how beneficial it has been for my business.”

Iowa State University and the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship provided a safe space to explore new ideas and innovations for Canon. He came in with an idea but no direction and is leaving with a blueprint for his business and a firm grasp on next steps to take for continued growth.

As a community, we can continue to support Canon and Raah Clothing Company by following along on Instagram, sharing the brand with others, and purchasing products online at Be on the lookout for the next t-shirt release, set for July 24th. Please share any comments, feedback, or praise for the brand at