These Baltimore Teenagers went from Cleaning Windshields to forming their own Bottled Water Company
The Baltimore Sun says that a group of young men have added a bottled water company to their squeegee enterprise.
These young men are an example of what is possible if you set your mind to it.
A bunch of Baltimore squeegee youngsters founded Korner Boyz Enterprises. The boys initially stood on corners while washing windows.
At the intersection of Mount Royal and North Avenues in Baltimore, they would stop passing cars and offer them a clean front windshield in exchange for a donation to help them with food and cell phone bills.
Kai Crosby-Singleton, a community liaison for the Office of Strategic Initiatives at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), came across the youngsters last winter.
The teenagers were being hurled with insults and racial epithets as they tried to make a few dollars. That’s when Crosby-Singleton stepped in, getting to know the young men.
The relationship he built with the boys, Taetae, Leroy, Khalil, Keyon and Deauntae would continue into the spring, with Crosby-Singleton trying to think of ways to help the boys find a better way to make money.
That eventually led him to invite the squeegee boys to the Baltimore Thinkathon, an annual initiative between MICA and the Baltimore Cultural Alliance that allows for a full day of brainstorming with some of the city’s leading creatives.
Five of the boys came out and met Sheri Parks, a culture critic and the Vice President of MICA who helped to establish the Thinkathon seven years prior.
“The young men said they were businessmen, that squeegee and the occasional sale of water were their hustles.
They agreed to teach us how to work with them in exchange for our time.
They already trusted each other in a way that would have been difficult to construct [and] they spoke often of loyalty and empathy.
We started applying their skills, strategies and patterns of work to another type of hustle,” Parks said.
While at the Thinkathon the boys also met Adrian Harpool, a communications and campaign strategist and his son Ian, Michael Scott, founder of the non-profit Equity Matters, and Unique Robinson, an artist and MICA faculty member.
The group got together with Crosby-Singleton and began having conversations with the boys. That’s when their next hustle developed, bottled water.
The group connected the boys to Jerome Harris, a MICA teaching fellow who helped to design their logo, and Scot Spencer, the associate director of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, who donated $5,000 to the boy’s business.
Crosby-Singleton then called on Dorcas Gilmore, a professor at the University of Maryland School of law, to draft up a business agreement that encapsulated the boys already established “code of conduct.”
The group meets once a week to discuss Korner Boyz Enterprises, which is currently selling cases of their own brand of bottled water.
They recently had their public debut in West Baltimore, and now they want to increase sales.
On the back of each Korner Boyz water label is their catchphrase, “Freedom to hustle.” Crosby-Singleton claimed that his true motivation was to support the children.
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We value your work ethic, but we just want to provide you some additional options so you can earn money more effectively, he said.
The lads, according to Scott, “are smart, imaginative kids. We assisted them in creating a business model and turned it into a teaching opportunity.
Every meeting with them has some lessons about business.”
The boys intend to someday transition from selling squeegees to selling water full-time by selling their cases at a wholesale level at various events, even though they currently have no intentions to leave their squeegee days behind them.
The firm intends to eventually grow the company to offer sparkling water and flavored waters.
Khalil, one of the group, has already begun talking about ways to recycle the plastic they generate. However, their main goal is just to motivate other young people.