ENGLEWOOD — Three teens from the South Side have come together to form their own production company, and they say they hope to encourage other black youths.
“I’m glad that we’re doing this because this can show young black kids that you can actually do something, that playing sports isn’t the only way you can make it in life,” said 16-year-old Devin Buckley, whose squad consists of 16-year-olds Chris Berry and Regis Luckett.
The idea to launch the Chicago-based company, VIP Productions, came after exposure to the new Blue 1647 Englewood Business Accelerator, which is housed in the U.S. Bank building, 815 W. 63rd St. The 1,600-square-feet business incubator opened its doors to the community in April, aimed at helping emerging entrepreneurs. The office has meeting rooms and private office space. Workshops, courses and technical assistance are also provided.
Glen Fulton, the Englewood Community Development Corporation’s executive director, said he always envisioned the space to be a welcoming center that offers small business owners an alternative to working out of their home. When it comes to helping young people, Fulton said he’s all in. Too often, he said, the focus tends to be on the “bad kids,” leaving the good ones without support. He said he wants to guide those who need it, as well as want it.
“What we’re trying to do is be an example of what young men should be like, and young women,” he said. “What we’ve done is shown a prime example of good kids that said, ‘You know what, we like what you all are doing, we want to start a business up.' "
He added that he gives kids guidance on business etiquette, including dress: "I got them wearing bowties, that’s leading by example.”
He said his goal is to help all of the youths who come through his doors to get either hired in the IT field, or at least on the path toward a career. On Aug. 18, his organization partnered with Cisco Networking Academy, which introduces students to information technology and helps them become certified for free.
"I'm excited about it," Fulton said.
Regis, an Auburn Gresham resident and Simeon Career Academy student said he’s always loved tinkering with computers, which is why his mother calls him a “computer genius.”
He and his two friends had the opportunity to intern with Englewood Blue this summer. After helping business owners with their websites, the young entrepreneurs decided to swap their skills for cash and set up shop in the Englewood business incubator. They officially launched VIP Productions on Aug. 19 and said it has been going well. Some of their services include:
- picture editing (negotiable pricing)
- Video editing ($50 per video)
- Poster ($35-40 per poster)
- Event photography ($60 per hour)
- Event filming ($70 per hour)
Both Devin and Regis study Web design at Simeon. They’re certified in Adobe Photoshop and HTML5. Chris, who lives in South Shore, is certified as a Networking and Computer Operations Specialist in CompTia A+, which is the basic certification for an IT professional who can troubleshoot networking and security issues on everything from desktops to mobile devices to tablets.
Despite their experience, the business owners said that some might not take them seriously, but they hope to change that.
“We already have a lot of things going against us, given that we’re already black, but along with our age, people won’t really take us seriously,” Chris said. “Our goal is to make this a successful business. We don’t want people to think we’re just some ragtag company trying to make some quick money, no. We’re trying to start a legitimate business off of this, and we want to make sure other people know we can do a quality job."
Their website is viproductions7.weebly.com and their contact information is firstname.lastname@example.org and 773-453-9655.
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