Teenager Makes Business Dream A Reality – By Using School Chromebook
Written By: Marc Writer
When teenage entrepreneur Malik Elliott thought about launching a clothing brand, it was built on dreams and execution.
The business name ‘Lost Hearts’ came to him in his sleep and Malik was inspired to make his online clothing store dream a reality.
But there was a problem: Malik was just 16 years old, had only $800 in savings, and he didn’t even own a computer.
A student at Saint Charles High School in St Charles, Illinois, at the time, Malik said: “It was difficult trying to make things happen because I simply didn't have a computer like a lot of other teenagers had.
“But my high school gave us a Chromebook, so I began working on my clothing business using my school Chromebook.
“It helped me get started – but I could only do so much because websites needed to access for my clothing brand, such as Shopify and GoDaddy, were blocked by the school Chromebook.”
Using his business brain, Malik discovered certain software to help him overcome his tech hurdles, and he also used his cellphone to complete tasks that the Chromebook wouldn’t allow.
Within three weeks, the online clothing store website for Lost Hearts was up and running, along with social media channels.
Malik invested his $800 savings in a heat press machine and plain hoodies, while his friend Jack bought a Cricut cutter.
Together, they got to work in Jack’s basement – turning it into a mini clothes factory. They spent up to eight hours a day creating branded hoodies by hand, while still attending high school.
“We’d be working before and after school some days. We’d finish football practice at 5pm and would then head straight to the basement and be working till around 9.30pm.
“We were doing it all by hand because we didn’t have a screen-printer. It took us nearly two weeks to finish the first batch of 25 hoodies.”
The first batch of hoodies sold out instantly, with friends at high school snapping them up. Bigger batches also sold out rapidly, followed by a large order of 350 T-shirts.
But it wasn’t just the trendy designs that were so popular, Malik’s peers were also sold on his Lost Hearts vision. He made it clear from the outset that he wanted to stage events to benefit young people, along with a longer-term plan to create new community centers that’ll take kids off the streets.
Malik explained: “I moved to Memphis, and we just don’t have the same kind of community centers here that I had back in Illinois. It’s a shame because it means young people are going down the wrong path and getting involved in stuff they really shouldn’t.
“I always loved playing outside with my friends all day, and I realized that the younger generation aren't doing that these days. They’re spending way too much time on their cellphones, or just don’t have anything productive to do where they live.
“So, I wanted to build something that recreated the experiences and memories that I used to have as a child.”
As well as selling out their clothes to an army of fans, Malik and his Lost Hearts team have also organized a series of community sports events in Memphis for young people.
Malik also invested all his initial earnings – and more – in a $3,000 business mentorship program, which he said was invaluable for changing his mindset around what was possible for him and his Lost Hearts company.
Now, three years on from their basement business, Lost Hearts has sold over 5,000 units of products, and employs four other people. With the business booming, Lost Hearts also recently opened up a store in Wolf Chase Mall in Memphis.
Malik said: “I’ve always felt like an entrepreneur because even before I set up this business, I was making money reselling (Nike Air) Jordans. I’d buy them low on places like Facebook marketplace and resell for a profit.
“But I’d no idea how much Lost Hearts would grow, especially over the past year, or that we would have our own store in the mall so soon.
“None of this would have been possible without my team members. They’re amazing.”