ANTHONY ROLLINS, 22, co-founder, Phree Street Apparel, Carson
Business: Designs and sells urban-inspired T-shirts for men and women
Employees: 1 (his mother)
Financials: 2009 profit of $5,000
Fact: His brother won an entrepreneurship award that sent them to Washington, where they met President Obama.
Anthony Rollins has something to say, and he’s saying it with his clothing startup.
The company, Phree Street Apparel, which he runs with his 18-year-old brother, Kalief, makes and sells men’s and women’s T-shirts emblazoned with provocative expressions such as “Caution: Educated African American Male.” The T-shirts are available through the company’s Web site for $10 to $15.
“Our clothes are urban wear for teenagers and older with a positive message,” Anthony Rollins said. “It’s cool clothing in a positive way.”
The idea to launch a company started in 2009, when Kalief Rollins was taking an entrepreneur class during his senior year at Downey High School.
His teacher saw potential in his business plan for an apparel company and encouraged him to enter the OppenheimerFunds /NFTE National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
So he did – beating students from throughout the United States last year to earn first place, $10,000 and a trip to the White House to meet President Obama. Anthony Rollins accompanied his brother on the trip to Washington, D.C.
They now run Phree Street out of their Carson home. Their one employee is their mother, Shurkriyah Rollins, an accountant who serves as chief financial officer. The siblings tapped some savings to start the business and used the prize money to buy higher-quality materials. They hope to bring in enough money to open a retail store, and eventually want to start making pants and jackets.
Anthony said there’s no sibling rivalry when it comes to running the business.
“I enjoy working with him because he’s my brother,” Anthony Rollins said. “I’m the older brother, so I tell him how I feel and I can be honest with him. I know what will make him mad and he knows what will make me mad, so it works better that way. And since we are brothers, we don’t argue over money.”
The brothers have been learning on the job. The company was originally named Phree Kountry Clothing, but that had to be changed because another business was already using that name.
Kalief Rollins is attending El Camino College while Anthony Rollins is pursuing his interest in drawing at the Art Institute of California, Los Angeles.
“I knew I wanted to do something in drawing, cartoons or something like,” he said. “I like to draw anything.”
He’s thinking about finding a way to turn his artistic talent into a company, maybe in animation production.
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