MOUNTLAKE TERRACE — One summer day, a teenage boy was bored and he wondered what to do.
Did he play video games? Did he bug some girls? Did he paint graffiti on fences?
Nope. Instead, Bukhari Shakil used his creative energy to start a clothing company.
Bukhari, 16, a junior at Mountlake Terrace High School, decided first to sell T-shirts and he sought out a brand for his company.
He found a font he liked and then a name that wasn’t already in use. He chose it because it speaks to a person’s individuality.
Bukhari called the company “ExoticCo” or just Exotic.
And then he brought in his classmates Malek Qibaa and Samuel Polevoy.
Malek and Samuel had been intently watching their friend Bukhari put the company together. They saw the hard work that went into researching the idea, designing the website, and then finding a clothing manufacturer and a shipping agent.
“We told ourselves that when our moment came, we would be ready to help,” said Samuel.
Now Bukhari is the president, and Malek and Samuel are the vice presidents of ExoticCo.
“Our goal is to produce clothes that look good, feel good and make a guy want to do good work,” Bukhari said.
“We’re still in the process of getting it all together,” Malek said.
“But we know we want to appeal to all the groups in high schools such as ours,” Samuel said. “The preps, the skaters, the artists, everybody.”
They call it street wear, and they offer it for men and women in primarily black and white with various printed designs. So far, the online catalog at exoticco.us features short ($22) and long sleeve ($26) T-shirts, crewneck sweatshirts ($34), hoodies ($36), beanies and cell phone cases (both $18). The shirts have names such as Dream, MoveMountains and RiseAbove.
The boys have known each other since middle school and they believe their camaraderie will take their company into the future.
“If it doesn’t work out, we’ll label this period a time of experimentation,” Bukhari said. “Or maybe we will sell the company. We believe, like my dad does, that if you want to do something, nothing will stop you if you stay dedicated and motivated.”
“We are prepared to stick with it all the way,” Malek said. “We’re passionate about it and truly believe that one day ExoticCo will be successful.”
Come what may, Bukhari also wants to study business in college, Sam wants to go into engineering and Malek wants to study psychology.
How are sales so far?
“People have been noticing our brand around school,” Bukhari said.
“I sold a freshman kid on our brand last week and today I saw him wearing one of our shirts,” Samuel said.
Will these budding entrepreneurs take their company to be grilled by the investors on TV’s “Shark Tank”?
“Ha, my dad watches that all the time,” Bukhari said. “I don’t know. One of the guys on the show, Daymond John, started his own clothing company. He might tear us apart. Then again, it might be good exposure.”
Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; email@example.com.