Commit to your passion
TJ Callaway (BBA ’07) connects his passion with his career and encourages UGA students to do the same.
he stayed true to his
TJ Callaway (BBA ’07) has had an entrepreneurial drive for as long as he can remember. At age 11, when the 1996 Summer Olympic torch passed through his hometown of Thomasville, Georgia, he saw an opportunity to sell drinks and boiled peanuts to the gathering crowds. True to this entrepreneurial spirit, TJ now serves as the founder and CEO of Onward Reserve, an online and retail destination for lifestyle gifts and apparel. TJ attributes much of his success to the hands-on experiences he gained through the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business. Today, as a donor and a member of the Metro Atlanta Young Alumni Leadership Council, TJ gives both his time and money to ensure that UGA students continue to have similar, eye-opening experiences.
TJ has always prioritized the journey over the destination, and he recognizes that the diverse opportunities available to him at UGA helped him reach his goals. Along with supporting the Institute for Leadership Advancement (ILA), TJ gives to various areas on campus, including the UGA Botanical Gardens, athletic programs, Terry College and the Georgia Fund.
“I received a lot of help as a student by reaching out to others and learning from them, so I’m trying to pay that forward,” said TJ.
While majoring in finance at Terry, TJ was accepted to the ILA’s Leonard Leadership Scholars Program, which encourages leadership development through innovative courses, company site visits, campus visits from industry executives, and challenging service opportunities. Not only did TJ make life-long friends in the program, but he also feels that it enhanced his work in the classroom and provided the tools he would one day need to open his own business.
TJ and his team of now eight store managers celebrate Onward Reserve at a Christmas Party with celebrated artist Steve Penley.
TJ and his wife, Catherine (BSFCS ’07), cheer on the Bulldogs with fellow alumni John (AB ’07, MBA ’11, JD ’12) and Susie Cates (BFA ’08).
“[Investment banking] was a phenomenal experience, but I realized it wasn’t for me. I had both an entrepreneurial and creative itch that weren’t getting scratched, and I was looking for something new to do.”
now he commits to helping students unite their
Before exploring his entrepreneurial possibilities, TJ worked as an investment banker.
“[Investment banking] was a phenomenal experience, but I realized it wasn’t for me,” said TJ. “I had both an entrepreneurial and creative itch that weren’t getting scratched, and I was looking for something new to do.”
TJ left investment banking to follow his dream of opening his own business. Onward Reserve was founded solely as an online retailer directed by TJ’s vision to develop “an authentically southern brand.” Despite not initially wanting to open a brick-and-mortar store, the perfect Athens location convinced TJ to capitalize on the opportunity. Currently, Onward Reserve has eight locations across the Southeast with plans to open more stores within the next year.
In addition to donating, TJ also supports UGA by serving as a guest speaker and mentor, through which he gives students candid and constructive advice. He encourages students to take advantage of their time at UGA and the innumerable opportunities available to them so they can fully explore their interests. By doing so, students can discover how to unite their passions with their career paths, much like TJ did.
“If you told me when I was in school that I’d be speaking to a fashion merchandising class one day, I’d be shocked. But I love it,” said TJ. “I love interacting with customers and designing our stores and clothing. If you can find something that aligns your passions with what you want to do, that’s worth its weight in gold.”
–Written by Claire Dickey ’18
What’s your cause? 100 percent of undesignated gifts to the Georgia Fund go to scholarships, allowing talented students in your field to pursue their education and discover how they can make an impact on the world.
TJ snaps a selfie after giving advice to UGA Leonard Leadership Scholars.
TJ and his wife Catherine pose with their one-year-old daughter, Jane, on Easter.