Meet Teen ‘Trep: George Ahlering
Company: Williams & Blackwood Clothing Co.
Facebook Page: @wbclothingco
My story begins in the Gateway to the West, St. Louis, Missouri. I was fed up with the mainstream American lifestyle brands; they just didn’t have the whole American picture. Being an aspiring entrepreneur, I set forth to create a brand from the bottom up that truly captured the American Lifestyle. At just 17 years old and with no prior business experience, I dove head first into the business. In February 2014, I decided to make this idea come to life. After hours of thinking and research, I decided upon the unique name “Williams & Blackwood Co” and used three nautical flags as the logo. These flags spell out “STL”, and being from St. Louis is something I take great pride in. Williams & Blackwood opened online at www.wbclothingco.com in June 2014 and has been steadily grown ever since. My company designs, produces and sells t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, visors and accessories. We boast over 80 Campus Representatives at universities in over 20 different states from coast-to-coast. The toughest part of building Williams & Blackwood Co. was finding the capital investments needed to purchase all of the products. Against my parent’s discretion, I spent nearly all of my savings from various summer jobs on the company and then reinvested money with my profits from sales. I owe most of my business’ success to Social Media Marketing and its incredible power to reach possible customers. Our Instagram, @wbclothingco, now has almost 2,300 followers and counting. We are currently in the process of approaching retail stores to carry Williams & Blackwood Co. Although my business has grown, it is important to me to keep as much of the production and economic impact local as possible. Our Spring 2015 line has just been released, check it out online at wbclothingco.com today!
What is your business tip for aspiring teen entrepreneurs?
Just like the quote from the Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come”, do not hesitate in starting up your own company. Do not be held back thinking that no one will ever buy your products, you need to believe in yourself and your product wholeheartedly. With the ever changing world of Social Media, there is a huge doorway at your fingertips which can serve basically as free marketing for your company. Defiantly use this to your advantage. Also, don’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Be persistent. Even if you have that occasional week or even month without sales, keep pushing along on Social Media, create sales and other offers (ie. giveaways) to gain more momentum. The first month that my store was open, I only had like two sales, and one was from a family member. But, as hard as it was, I remained optimistic and kept on my Social Media pages and the sales came rolling in.
What is the best part of being a teen entrepreneur?
The best part about being an entrepreneur is knowing that you convinced someone to believe in your product and in turn, in you. All of your hard work designing, re-designing and making everything perfect paid off and you feel overjoyed. Every time someone pushes that “Add to Cart” button, they are showing that they believe in you and in your product. I think that is the best part of being an entrepreneur, overcoming hardships, putting in hard work, and having that all pay off in the end.