Several stations are set up in a room waiting for customers to come in. One is set up with cookies, brownies, and muffins. Others have clothing and jewelry items displayed and ready to be sold. Colleen Hu patiently sits at her station awaiting for her digital art prints to be bought.
The 17-year-old is just one of six students initially chosen to sell their products at the recently opened Teen Post, a project of the Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley & Eastside that recently opened on Cesar E Chavez Ave and Mott. Hu displays and sells digital prints of her portraits, which take her anywhere from two to four weeks to complete.
The Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley held the Grand Opening for Teen Post this month. The organization that operates clubhouses at Estrada Courts and Ramona Gardens public housing developments in Boyle Heights (and at nearby William Meade Homes) partnered with Loyola Marymount University to offer 75 Eastside students a ten-week virtual crash course on how to become young entrepreneurs.
The Jr. CEO Entrepreneur course teaches the students how to brand and market, manage money, and be innovative with the products they choose to sell. At the end of the course, the students are required to write a business plan and make a presentation for LMU students and Boys and Girls Club staff.
Teen Post was created for area students who want to start their own business and put their products on the market for the community to see. Currently there are two cycles of five teens selling their products. Every five weeks, the teens will switch out giving them time to create new merchandise or rebrand if needed.
Angel Silva, a Boys and Girls Club staff member, is the Teen Post’s store manager. The 18-year-old believes that teens from the local community deserve to find something they are passionate about and be able to make income from it.
“I feel like with Teen Post opening, it’s an opportunity for adults to see teens more active, being creative, doing things that normally teens don’t do,” said Silva. “I feel like this is a unique and rare opportunity that not everyone will get to have and we’re so lucky to have it here in the city.”
JR Dzubak, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of West San Gabriel Valley & Eastside, said the goal of Teen Post is to provide students with skills to run a business through both a store and on social media.
“What you’re going to create is artists, entrepreneurs, creative business owners,” Dzubak said. “You’re going to inspire young people to be creative, to fail, to learn that failure is okay, you build from it.”
Hu said she is grateful Teen Post has provided her with skills beyond just starting her business. “[Teen Post] really helped me get out of my own world and be able to show and sell my art to new people who probably wouldn’t know about me or what I do from where I stand,” she said.
Teen Post is open Monday through Friday from 12pm to 6pm and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm. It’s located at 2626 1/2 East Cesar E Chavez Ave in Boyle Heights. Information: 626-573-2831.