“If you can dream it, you can do it.”
What comes to mind when you hear the term good ol’ days? For a lot of folks, the good ol’ days are the years spent in high school. Football games, homecoming dances, proms and first glances from a high school sweetheart – a lot of good memories, albeit some very awkward memories, but nonetheless good memories indeed.
Adulting can be hard and it can be stressful. And let’s face it, with grown-up jobs, bills and decision making the fun and lackadaisical good ol’ days feeling can be somewhat elusive at times. But there is an elite group of students who brilliantly combined the good ol’ days of high school with the responsibility of adulting with such amazing finesse that Baylor just had to honor them with 2017 Youth Entrepreneur of the Year Awards.
Yes, you read that right. Youth and entrepreneurship in harmony, sort of communal like two peas in a pod. But really, those two words go together like fine mess, jumbo shrimp, clearly confused, old news and awfully good. Youth aren’t supposed to be entrepreneurs. That’s adulting stuff. Youth should be living it up in the good ol’ days.
Maybe so, but these students have blazed an entrepreneurial trail like none other. And we’re not talking cookie-cutter entrepreneurial endeavors either. These youth entrepreneurs were successful with pizazzy socks and chic personalized gifts. Definitely not run-of-the-mill side gigs.
The first place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school junior, Brennan Agranoff. Brennan is the founder of HoopSwagg, an apparel customization business that specializes in socks. These aren’t ordinary, boring socks though. These are pizazzy socks.
Be warned. If you’re looking for plain-jane, blend-in-with-the-crowd kind of socks, steer clear of HoopSwagg. But if you’re looking for socks with an edge, sock that make a statement with design names like Psycho Rainbow, Goat Farm, Detonation and Eyeballz then you must check out HoopSwagg.com…now.
But how in the world did this happen?
It all started in seventh grade. In midst of typical adolescent self discovery, Brennan became obsessed with socks. The only problem with that was everyone was wearing plain colored socks. And plain colored socks didn’t satisfy this budding sock aficionado. Brennan mowed the lawn all summer and saved his money to buy the very coolest pair of wildly-colored socks online for $50. He wore the perfectly hued socks to school in the fall and all of his friends were duly impressed.
As with any entrepreneur, Brennan wondered how he could make a razzle-dazzle sock on his own. For six months he researched processes, equipment and production. He then had a few samples made and tried his luck on eBay. Not knowing exactly what to expect with his first try at eCommerce, Brennan was thrilled when the socks instantly sold out.
Brennan knew he was onto something with his flashy feet accessories. He prepared a business plan and asked his parents for a $3,000 loan. The parentals loved the idea and complied with the loan request. By August 2013, armed with funding, equipment and a live website, HoopSwagg, LLC was the real deal.
There have been a few bumps in the road for Brennan. One of the biggest hurdles has simply been his age. Paperwork, financials and trademark submissions all required a parent’s signature. And then there’s the unknown. The not knowing what can go wrong is a struggle. But Brennan looks at each new problem as an opportunity to find a solution.
A lot has changed since that initial 2013 launch. HoopSwagg now has its own brand of sock and Brennan is looking to expand his high school basketball program to more than 500 teams. Eventually, he would like to introduce the retail market to his less expensive, high quality socks.
Brennan says, “When you have something that people want, they will come.”
The third place recipient of the 2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award was high school sophomore, Addison Bain. Addison is the founder of Addigrams, a business that takes everyday items like travel mugs and backpacks and personalizes them with monograms and names. A morning cup of joe in a chic, personalized mug…yes, please.
But how in the world did this happen?
The Addigrams journey began during a summer trip to Michigan when Addison’s Aunt Kristen introduced the most amazing, the most intriguing, the most fabulous thing ever…a Cricut®. The Cricut is a nifty machine that is every crafty DIYer’s dream come true. It’s a die-cutting machine, and according to the website, it can be used for “everything from cards and gifts to party and home decor, fashion and accessories and more!”
The budding entrepreneur took the “and more” and ran with it. Immediately she imagined all of the ways she could use a Cricut, and like any innovative teenager would do…she asked mom and dad if they would buy her a Cricut. The conversation didn’t go quite as Addison had hoped, but that didn’t stop this precocious teen.
Addison started saving her babysitting earnings. By September, she had $190. Even though she was still $60 short, Addison’s parents chipped in the remainder and bought the Cricut. After a few weeks of experimenting with the Cricut, Addison’s wheels were turning. She started thinking of all the different customized items she could create with the Cricut. All of the things she could create…and sell. Addison wanted to start her own business.
With backing from mom and dad, Addison created an Etsy shop. Initially, customers were family and friends. However, that soon changed with the magical powers of social media and word-of-mouth praise. And like any successful entrepreneur would do, Addison wondered how she could make her business better. Embroidery was the next plan of action.
Addigrams’ custom-chic, monogrammed and embroidered items have been shipped to 22 states. Addison does close the Etsy store during school months, but during that time she takes every opportunity to participate in community events and markets. Her next plan is to broaden the product line to include leather jewelry.
Addison says, “Never think you are too young to start your own business.”
Luther Vandross once said, “The best part is still ahead of me – I haven’t experienced my ‘good old days’ yet.”
Maybe Brennan and Addison are onto something. Something big. Something extraordinary. Something that dreams are made of. Maybe any day and every day can be a good ol’ day.
2017 Youth Entrepreneur Award Finalists and Winners
First Place Winner, Brennan Agranoff, HoopSwagg, LLC
Second Place Winner, Ehan Kamat, 321 Innovations, LLC
Third Place Winner, Addison Bain, Addigrams
Finalist, Sam Fleet, QuickShare Cloud Services
Finalist, Cade Hudson, Hudson Pressure Washing
Finalist, Evan Hara, Evan Hara Films
Finalist, Matthew Hoenig, Matthew Hoenig Productions
Finalist, Luke Stetler, Durango Tire Storage
Finalist, Kyle Tananbaum, Sector 214
Finalist, JB Williams, JB’s Firewood
For more information about Free Enterprise at the Baugh Center, please visit our website at baylor.edu/business/freeenterprise/