GAGE PARK— What started as a popular high school group has turned into a profitable business for two budding entrepreneurs — and the group has taken advantage of a new retail space in Englewood that is helping small businesses and artists get off the ground.
Devonta Boston, 20, of Gage Park, formed a group with friend Omphile Franklin called TGi during his junior year at Gage Park High School, 5630 S. Rockwell St. TGi stands for “tranquility, gratitude and innovation.”
He and his friends designed matching hoodies, he said, to get people excited about being a part of the group. “When we first started, we weren’t selling clothing,” Boston said.
But the group got so popular that by his senior year they started selling unisex T-shirts they designed with the TGi logo.
Devonta Boston, left, and TGi co-founder Omphile Franklin. [Provided by Devonta Boston]
Now, he and Franklin proudly refer to TGi as a lifestyle brand that’s also a movement.
A portion of proceeds from sales of their products goes toward bettering the community. They distribute sandwiches and water to the homeless and they buy items to help clean up the neighborhood and parks.
Devonta Boston, right, is the co-founder of the T-shirt line TGi. [DNAinfo/Andrea V. Watson]
For the last month, the two have been selling from Boombox Englewood, a 200-square-foot shipping container that can be rented as retail space and allows online businesses, startups and artists an opportunity to set up shop, said Katherine Darnstadt, the principal architect for Latent Design. The location at 63rd and Halsted streets is climate-controlled.
She said the space is great for young entrepreneurs because it helps them realize what it takes to run a business.
“It’s showing that it’s an opportunity to start thinking about the possibilities you have for entrepreneurship,” she said.
People can apply online at www.boomboxchicago.com.
Another group using the Boombox space, People Organizing and Winning Everything Right, is a project of the Monroe Foundation, led by teens and young adults. Those teens and young adults launched YOUTHBOOM! which also sells branded apparel.
That's far better than selling loose cigarettes or illegal goods, said Otis Monroe, CEO of the foundation.
“The best anti-violence program is one with a job,” Monroe said.
Boston is also involved with the Monroe Foundation.
“I want to promote innovation,” he said.
College isn’t for everyone, Boston said, who took some classes at DeVry University. He fell in love with designing, since he used to draw when he was younger, he said.
“It feels great,” Boston said about running his own business.
Boston now hopes to set up in Boombox's other location in Wicker Park.
People who are interested in buying a shirt for $25 can email Boston at Tgimovement15@gmail.com.