WEST CHICAGO – Jenaro Yasit Terrazas, a 19-year-old entrepreneur and West Chicago resident, hopes to use his fledgling clothing business as a means to promote other young people in his hometown.
Terrazas, who graduated from Community High School in West Chicago in 2013, just completed his freshman year at College of DuPage, as well as his first year in the clothing business.
His company, Yasit Exclusive Clothing, was founded last summer with just a T-shirt, he said.
After designing a few items himself, Terrazas teamed up with Madelon Castelvecchi. Castelvecchi, an artist and student at Community High School, designs much of the company's clothing now, and a longtime friend from Aurora offers screen-printing services.
The motto for the clothing line – stay exclusive – means "be unique, be you," Terrazas said.
As a high school student, Terrazas realized that clothing advertises itself, and it can be part of something bigger.
"When you're wearing a brand, you're not just wearing a brand; you're a part of something else," he said.
Two of the four items listed for sale on the company's website are now marked as sold out.
"We have a lot of demand but not enough supply," Terrazas said. "Every time I get a profit, I am reinvesting."
Terrazas said he has spoken to several investors who have expressed interest in his business venture, but he's still trying to convince them of the viability of his young company and his competency as a 19-year-old CEO.
Terrazas' ambition reaches beyond that of building a successful clothing company, however.
"Hopefully one day I can get a store in West Chicago, and not just a clothing store, but [a place] people can hang out, and we can help them with their homework and just chill," he said.
Others in the community agree this kind of spot would be a positive addition to West Chicago.
"I think it would be good to have people come over and hang out and see what he's doing and how he's growing," said 19-year-old Jennifer Rodriguez, a graduate of Community High School, student at University of Illinois at Chicago and promoter of Terrazas' brand.
Rodriguez is studying sociology and hopes to one day be a social worker for high school students, she said. Though she said her studies don't have much in common with Terrazas' business venture, she likes how he is trying to relate to students.
Saul Vargas, producer of Terrazas' YouTube channel – dubbed "YasitTV" – said his work with the company has given him more experience and ideas for what he wants to do with his own future.
"It gets me out there and working already," said Vargas, a 17-year-old junior at Community High School. He plans to study business administration in college.
Vargas said the company's sales have been growing exponentially since it was founded, and he attributes the local success of the brand in part to Terrazas' own popularity in high school.
"I've been in West Chicago all my life," Terrazas said. "This has been my community, and all I'm trying to do is help it out and make it more about teenagers."
The young entrepreneur said he focuses on doing what he can for his peers because someone needs to.
"I concentrate on young people because there needs to be a source for young people to be promoted," Terrazas said.
In addition to selling his clothing and growing his brand, he wants to serve as a platform to promote others who are trying to make the community a better place.
On his company's website, visitors can find information about other young entrepreneurs in town.
"When I was in high school, a lot of my friends and all the people I met had great ideas," Terrazas said. "They just didn't know how to get started."
With his brand, website and social media accounts, Terrazas hopes to guide himself and others to success, so together, they can make it big.
Visit www.yasitexclusiveclothing.com to learn more about Terrazas' company.