CRYSTAL LAKE – Marco Jimenez is inspired by the music he listens to while he’s messing around on his computer and the patterns and textures he sees around him.
The Crystal Lake South High School senior is the designer in the company he co-owns with two of his friends.
Josh Bear, another Crystal Lake 17-year-old, took a page out his father’s book – his father owns 18 or so McDonald’s franchises – and dove into the business side.
Angello Sibilia was just signed on as the third partner with a focus on marketing and promotion.
The three have pretty different backgrounds – Sibilia was born in the Dominican Republic and moved here when he was little, Bear grew up speaking French in a Moroccan household in Crystal Lake and Jimenez came from a family of mostly Mexican descent – but their similar styles despite different backgrounds are, they said, what defines their brand.
Their company, Lotus Society, started selling clothing and accessories with an urban flair and an inclusive message in February.
The company’s name uses the word lotus as an acronym meaning “love openly to understand society,” Bear said.
“Anybody can wear clothes,” Jimenez said. “You don’t have to be big or strong or skinny. You can be anything.”
“You can stand out and have a deeper meaning,” Bear added.
Bear and Jimenez started planning the company in November using funds borrowed from their parents. Each partner has an equal say in the company.
“I thought, Why don’t we put our talents together?” Bear said. “It can’t get any better than that: business and fashion. We might as well try to start something that most people don’t think they have the potential to do, start at an early age and hopefully do something big with ourselves.”
The brand is starting to take off, especially at Crystal Lake South where they’ve sponsored a student organization, but Lotus Society also has sold to consumers in Mexico, Italy and France.
They’ve taken those profits – minus the 5 percent that goes to charity – and plan on reinvesting in the company, expanding the line and revamping the website. They’re talking to retail shops and plan to go to an urban fashion trade show in Las Vegas.
The plan is to capitalize on their story and their friendship, adding a personal touch to their brand. Each box that goes out has a handwritten note included.
The goal is to have the company on solid ground before they finish their senior year so that no matter where they end up, it can keep growing.
“We’ve really grown,” Sibilia said. “This company really bonded us together. There’s going to be a time... You can have really good friends in school, but then you go off to colleges and you’re never to going to talk to them again. I like to think this company is a really strong bond between the three of us in case we ever go our three separate ways.”