The unfinished Majesty Building in Altamonte Springs is better known as the “I-4 Eyesore” to locals who have driven by it over the past 18 years.
That thumb-shaped building was the inspiration for a popular T-shirt design by Andrew Chang ’12 ’14MHA. He started the local company Swan City in 2016 as a way of paying tribute to quirks and highlights of his adopted city.
“The snarky, kitschy feel of Swan City is very much my personality,” Chang says. In addition to tees, Swan City also has a line of slightly irreverent posters, candles and other merchandise in its online store.
“When I was first considering launching Swan City, I showed my friends some of the sayings I had come up with,” Chang says. “I told them, if you don’t want to laugh at it or share it, then I’m not doing my job right.”
Chang wore the tee in a televised interview; the simple design incorporated “Procrastination Level:” and a graphic of the Majesty. A screenshot from the interview was turned into a meme and quickly went viral.
“It was absolute insanity,” Chang says of the response to the shirt.
Feathering his Nest with Healthcare and Creativity
Chang, originally from Titusville, moved to Orlando in 2008. He had briefly considered going to art school, but came to UCF to study molecular microbiology and become a physician.
He was also working as a certified nursing assistant when he realized that he was more interested in the business side of healthcare than the practice of medicine and went back to UCF for his master’s degree in health administration. In addition to Swan City, Chang is also the accountable care organization executive director for Florida of Aledade.
“Swan City feeds my creative side, and Aledade allows me to use the healthcare expertise I learned at UCF,” Chang says.
“I had the pleasure of serving as both Mr. Chang’s professor and academic advisor, and I remember him well,” says Jenny Sumner ’99 ’00MS ’08PhD, executive director of UCF Online Connect Center and strategic initiatives for UCF Connect. “He was extremely driven and passionate about his studies and about making a difference in the healthcare field and his community; his goal to serve others was definitely evident in our conversations and through our work together.”
Sumner says she took note of his communication and presentation skills, and says he excelled in both his academics and in his co-curricular experiences.
“Though not surprising,” Sumner says, “it is such a pleasure to know that all of his hard work and efforts at UCF have led to many more successes in his professional career.”
Chang applied the business and marketing principals he gleaned from his degree programs and channeled them into his plan for Swan City, an obvious nod to Lake Eola, home of the beloved swans, and near his Thornton Park District home.
The Swan Takes Flight
In addition to partnering with downtown Orlando businesses to promote his tees, Chang’s online shop and Instagram account (@swancityorlando) pay homage to a variety of Orlando icons, including UCF: “You are the black to my gold,” is a line on one of his posters.
“I am greatly awaiting the opening of UCF Downtown,” Chang says. In addition to maintaining his UCF connections, he has also established himself with other downtown business owners.
“Andrew is a business person first and foremost,” says Mark Baratelli, owner and publisher of The Daily City, and producer of Food Truck Bazaar and Orlando Flea. “He executes, he completes, he finishes, and he follows through. He gets projects and ideas done and out the door so people can enjoy them.”
Prior to starting his business, Chang created 23 pages of bulleted ideas and sayings for his whimsical merchandise. When he debuted Swan City, he had already produced eight of those pages.
“I have a little swan’s nest of eggs that haven’t hatched yet,” Chang says. “Some might be duds, but there might also be some golden eggs.”