With the help of non-profit BUILD Metro DC, two juniors at Roosevelt High School in northwest D.C. became business partners.
“BUILD uses a four-year comprehensive model where we introduce rising ninth-graders to the entrepreneurship and business building process,” said Chris Brown, regional director of BUILD Metro DC. “Through their ninth year they write business plans and meet with business mentors and compete in business plan competitions. Then over the next three years through high school we actually help them launch those businesses, we invest in those businesses and use those businesses to connect the entrepreneurship experience to academic and college and career success.”
When cousins Eric Hawkins and TJ Hudson first entered the program, they weren’t enthusiastic. TJ thought BUILD was a woodshop class, and Eric wanted to get out of the class.
“Eric and TJ were not unlike a lot of students that are in our BUILD program in the ninth-grade year,” Brown said. “They were students that were sitting in the back of the class, maybe had been a little disruptive.”
“But they also demonstrated some incredible leadership potential as well as some, I think, business savvy that through the BUILD experience they were able to unleash,” Brown added.
They launched TAG, a clothing company.
“TV paints the image that so-called geeks don’t typically dress that well, so we came up with a way that you express yourself as talented and gifted and still look fashionable at the same time,” TJ said.
“It took a long time just for the initial design, but we knew that if we didn’t take the time to come up with the design then we wouldn’t be here so successful like we are now,” Eric said.
At their last selling event, Eric and TJ made $370. They invested it right back in their business.