Young Industries takes over Decatur

Sophomores turn $80 investment into business

LOGO3tenSophomores Ben Linkous-Stewart, Sam Jones, Sam Bennett and Sam Ozio wanted a friend group that included everyone. Their original idea was to have Young Industries represent all Decatur students.

“The goal was to eliminate all of the bad stuff people say about each other,” Jones said.

Linkous-Stewart thought of creating an apparel company that invites all Decatur students to feel welcome. The purpose is to create clothing that promotes unity.

He started Young Industries to satisfy the personal project requirement.

ESS teacher Beth Lewis, Linkous-Stewart’s personal project advisor, sees the goal of the personal project as doing “something you’re naturally interested in.” In this case, Linkous-Stewart took advantage of the opportunity.

“My sophomore project is what I used to convince my parents to support me creating my own company,” he said.

Linkous-Stewart chose to name his company Young Industries, which represents the group’s origin – young people creating a business.

Though the group brainstormed ideas together, Linkous-Stewart got the ball rolling.

The four are able to go to his father’s job to print products. Without Linkous-Stewart’s father, the group would not be able to create Young Industries’ products.

Jones, Ozio and Bennett agree that Linkous-Stewart is Young Industries’ CEO.

“I take a lot of insight from my friends,” Linkous-Stewart said.

“We’re like the board of executives,” Jones added. “We spend a lot of time discussing what we’re actually doing.”

Ben Linkous-Stewart, Sam Jones, Sam Bennett and Sam Ozio (left to right) are Young Industries’ co-founders. They tried to start up their company as freshmen, but it was not successful because of lack of motivation and money.
Ben Linkous-Stewart, Sam Jones, Sam Bennett and Sam Ozio (left to right) are Young Industries’ co-founders. They tried to start up their company as freshmen, but it was not successful because of lack of motivation and money.

Young Industries’ mission is to represent Decatur as a whole. While Young Industries is an apparel company, it also acts as a title all students can claim.

“The whole point of this group is that it’s everyone,” Jones said.

Bennett thinks Young Industries is different from other student-apparel companies because of the effort the group puts into their products.

“What makes us unique is that any other person at the school producing apparel most likely watched some YouTube video, ‘How to iron on stickers to my shirt,’ or they’re going on some website and paying some ridiculous amount for some custom clothing,” Bennett said. “It’s a process. We actually make shirts, and I think that’s why we’ve probably had the best results.”

The four could order their designs online and have them shipped, but instead they choose to squeegee the ink manually and package their own products.

Young Industries’ work is similar to that of another local t-shirt printing company, Decatur Screenprint.

Decatur Screenprint prints custom t-shirts. Owner Nancy Moore bought the company without knowing how to create shirt designs. She believes t-shirt printing is an easy skill to learn and a great way to make money.

She considers students who learn the process of creating a business lucky, as they can continue creating products throughout their lives for leisure or other business ventures.

“It is very encouraging to see students learning the business,” she said. “I think it’s a great idea that kids learn how to create a business at that age.”

Decatur Screenprint has a few high school students who screenprint their own shirts. Those students learn print to shirts like Linkous-Stewart, Jones, Bennett and Ozio.

 Sam Ozio uses a squeegee to push the ink onto a t-shirt. Ozio, Sam Bennett, Sam Jones and Ben Linkous-Stewart take pride in creating their own products.
Sam Ozio uses a squeegee to push the ink onto a t-shirt. Ozio, Sam Bennett, Sam Jones and Ben Linkous-Stewart take pride in creating their own products.

Young Industries created stickers that spread through Decatur halls within a week. The stickers served to provoke curiosity while also introducing Young Industries to Decatur.

“That’s when Young Industries really became like ‘Oh, this is a thing,’” Linkous-Stewart said.

The four did not begin making and selling shirts until they realized what responses they were receiving.

“We can do this. People actually support this,” Linkous-Stewart said.

Sophomore Enza O’Neal witnessed the evolution of Young Industries. She heard Linkous-Stewart first announce Young Industries would be selling shirts.

O’Neal also noticed black stickers with the Young Industries logo placed all around the school.

Binders, walls, vending machines and restrooms were all decorated with stickers.

Besides stickers, Young Industries advertises its products on Instagram and through word of mouth.

O’Neal purchased a shirt in March because she liked the design and how Young Industries “represents the present generation.”

“The idea that we can make our own brands, and that it got around so fast, is really interesting to me,” she said. “[Students] have to start thinking about what we want to do in life.”

Young Industries’ growth has just begun. The group believes they have to develop new products to attract a variety of customers, but one thing will not change.

“The triangle is gonna stay the triangle,” Linkous-Stewart said.