At the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, Asia, Zoey, and their classmates sat down in what they thought was going to be another finance class. Instead they were introduced to the NFTE program. Neither Asia nor Zoey imagined that a few months later, they would earn recognition both inside and outside of Baltimore for their business plans. Both students competed at the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge and were recognized by the Mayor’s Office on Minority and Women-Owned Business Development. Additionally, Asia had the opportunity to shadow Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake as Mayor for the Day.
Zoey’s business, Deja au Vintage, focused on ‘upcycling’ jeans. She was inspired to create her business after hearing many of her friends complain that they couldn’t find jeans that expressed their style. Realizing that everyone had ‘vintage’ clothes that they wanted to keep, but were no longer in style, Zoey dedicated her business to refurbishing old jeans using stylish trends. In May 2013, Zoey placed second in the NFTE Baltimore city wide competition and advanced to the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in New York City. While she didn’t place at nationals, she was pleased that she was able to participate in the final competition and receive feedback from judges to help incorporate into her business idea.
Zoey says that “NFTE taught me about business and the steps and tools that you need. It taught me to think like an entrepreneur.” Zoey graduated from Forest Park High School in June 2014 and will be furthering her education at Baltimore City Community College. Her business continues to thrive and her designer creations are featured at Krush, a store in downtown Baltimore where she is also an assistant manager.
Asia’s business, Fortunate!, was a wholesale business that provided jumbo fortune cookies in diverse shapes, flavors, colors and messages.Asia describes herself as a serial entrepreneur with a love of philanthropy and social responsibility. Thanks to the NFTE class, her world has expanded and her eyes opened to many news professional opportunities. “My generation praises mediocrity or basic ideas but bashes those that show genius and vision. I am a potential revolutionary with a gift, not just another person with a hobby and lack of ingenuity trying to make money.”
Today, Asia no longer operates Fortunate!. Instead she focuses her efforts on operating The Optimistic Party, a nonprofit she created after receiving a grant from Youth Service America. Asia graduated Forest Park High School in June 2014 as the valedictorian. Asia has also been selected as a Gates Millennium Scholar – a scholarship program that selects 1,000 talented students each year to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. Asia will use her scholarship to attend MICA in the fall. Additionally, Asia has received several other scholarships including the National Horatio Alger Scholarship and Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship.
Please consider making a donation today. No contribution is too small as Asia, Zoey,and the youth of Baltimore City ignite their entrepreneurial spirit through NFTE's programs.