Zac Halloran '08, the founder and CEO of Twill, played baseball at UAlbany.
ALBANY, N.Y. (Feb. 23, 2017) – Zac Halloran ’08, the founder and CEO of Twill, didn’t set out to be an entrepreneur.
“I tell people I have no business being in business,” said Zac, who nevertheless has a passion for his business that is contagious.
Twill is a small business founded in Albany in 2013 that makes blankets and beanies, and currently employs 10 people. And for each blanket or beanie purchased, another is given to someone in need, for example, a hospital patient.
Why blankets and hats? "Everyone could benefit from a warm blanket or beanie during a tough time," Zac said. "We figured why not start with a simple product that everyone could use."
Coming from a family of seven children -- his father was a truck driver and his mother a nurse -- Zac started working at 13 and has never stopped.
He played baseball for the Great Danes while attending UAlbany. He was planning to be a teacher, with a major in sociology and a minor in education. He graduated in December 2008, and went on to earn a master’s in adolescent and special education from The College of Saint Rose.
Then suddenly, life changed. In 2012 his younger brother had a sudden onset of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
“It rocked the foundation of myself and our family of five boys and two girls. I wasn’t sure what to do,” said Zac, who was born and raised in Albany.
Schizophrenia can emerge in late adolescence. “It was a very tough time for my family,” Zac said. He began to think, “Why don’t we start a company that for every time we sell a product, we give one to a local not-for-profit?”
This was the beginning of Twill.
This month, the Alumni Association and members of the Twill team are donating limited edition UAlbany and Twill beanies to patients at Koinonia Primary Care, located in Albany’s West Hill neighborhood. The health clinic was founded by UAlbany alum Dr. Bob Paeglow in 2001.
In addition, pre-orders of the limited-edition purple-and-gold beanies are available through Feb. 28 at Twill’s website for $30. A portion of every UAlbany and Twill beanie purchase will benefit locally-based non-profits Jammin’ for JP and the Friends of Jaclyn Foundation (founded by UAlbany alumni Denis and Lynda Murphy). These two nonprofits support children with brain diseases.
Zac lived with his younger brother for a few years. Over the years, his brother’s illness stabilized with treatment and today he helps out the company that he helped to inspire.
Zac moved to Los Angeles recently as part of the vision of making Twill a national company that helps out locally. Another brother, Jer Halloran, CFO of Twill, has taken the reins of the Northeast division.