At NFTE I learned how to create plans, lift complicated projects off the ground, present my work, and speak with clarity and confidence.

—Keegan Bonds-Harmon
  • At 14, Keegan was already an accomplished artist and designer and he knew he wanted to turn his passion into a career.
  • He enrolled in a NFTE class, started a business, and went on to compete in his classroom pitch competition. In fact, he took his NFTE business through multiple rounds of regional and then national competitions, emerging as a runner up at that year’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge.
  • Almost immediately he began to receive national attention, from a profile in the Providence Journal to a feature in People Magazine.
  • One of the biggest lessons he learned from NFTE was how to effectively negotiate his worth as an artist, something many never master.

At the age of 14, Keegan was already an artist and designer and knew he wanted to turn his unique style into a thriving business. He enrolled in a NFTE class so he could acquire the tools to make that happen.

He recalls learning startup skills and, perhaps more importantly, learning how to value his time and recognize the worth of his design vision.

Keegan’s NFTE business – Keegancreatures – was a hit. His uniquely designed screen-printed T-shirts were selling, and his ability to pitch his business was getting better and better. He won the NFTE business plan competition in his school, advanced to the regional competition, won there, and qualified to compete in the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge, where he made it to the final round and took home a runner up award.

Keegan says NFTE gave him several foundational skills that have been instrumental to his career endeavors, including an improved ability to organize himself and his work as well as excellent negotiation skills. Participating in NFTE competitions helped him develop public speaking skills that have proved invaluable as his career progressed and he gained media attention.

One of the stories about his early success demonstrates the way that Keegan put his NFTE skills to work. As he was gaining media attention – in outlets ranging from People Magazine to the Providence Journal – the then 14-year-old developed acne. Protor & Gamble, the makers of Clearasil, reached out to the young artist and asked him to appear in a new television commercial for the product. Keegan made sure both he and his studio space looked great when the cameras came in to film him at work. In fact, the Clearasil team was so impressed they wanted to film additional “behind the scenes working shots” of Keegan in his studio.

At that point, many starstruck teenagers would have probably rushed to give their time for free. But while building his business plan, Keegan learned that his time had a dollar amount attached to it and so did the investments he made in his studio. Fearlessly, he negotiated an additional fee commensurate with the value of his additional time and the opportunity to film in his store. Sure enough, he got a bigger paycheck.