I Dropped Out Of College To Grow My Side Hustle – Now It Brings In $327,000

I Dropped Out Of College To Grow My Side Hustle - Now It Brings In $327,000

Justis Pitt-Goodson, 26, is a proud entrepreneur who got his start making clothing in eighth grade. A tutor gave him a sewing machine, and he began creating bow ties for himself and his friends. He attended Rutgers University in New Jersey for two years before dropping out to focus on fashion. With the help of high school classmates, Kwaku Agyemang and Taha Shimou, Justis officially launched BrownMill Company in Newark in 2016, and five years later it was bringing in about $327,000 in sales.

Produced by: Ennica Jacob
Senior Managing Producer: Sam Rega
Supervising Producer: Jessica Leibowitz
Editor: Marisa Forziati
Additional Camera: Jon Fazio, Edna Rutland
Animation: Elham Ataeiazar

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I Dropped Out Of College To Grow My Side Hustle – Now It Brings In $327,000

Even from an early age,
I would sell candy, I Would sell sneakers, sell
clothes. I just love the idea of
selling something and Getting value in return. My name is Justis
Pitt-Goodson. I'm the CEO and director
of BrownMill Company, and I live in Newark, New
Jersey. From an early age. I've always been like a
hustler, an entrepreneur. I don't know where I got
it from. Mom says I Got it from my father,
who was also an Entrepreneur. So maybe
something that's genetic. But one day, you know, a
tutor of mine, she let me Borrow her sewing
machine. At that time, I Was really into style.
This is around eighth Grade. Seventh, eighth
grade. So an idea popped In my mind, Like Imma
make bow ties. Imma make ties. So I started to do that. Back then, you couldn't
tell me anything about These bow ties. These
were the hottest thing Ever. Looking back at
some of the work, seams Everywhere. It was awful. The confidence that was
instilled in me by, you Know, the people around
me. ”Keep going. This is dope Justis.” You
know, that type of Encouragement was
crucial. Then I met my other two Business partners in high
school and just kept Developing it from there. Ironically, I went to
school for free because my Mother, she was a police
officer at Rutgers New Brunswick. The college era was crucial. I went to Rutgers, Newark
studying business Management at the business

I'm interning with
stylists, so I'm learning Different parts of every
piece of the business of Fashion. So I think all
of that mixed with going To the business school at
the same time really helped Shape an idea and give me
vision for what I wanted This company to look
like. I end up not I ended up not graduating. My whole
family is like, ”Why? What's going on?” But for
me, it was a time thing. It was a resource thing. I could play this out for
the next 2 to 3 years, or I can just use my time a
little more wiser if I Know what I want to do. When I was 20, my mom,
she was diagnosed with Breast cancer, I think
like stage four. So it was like pretty
intense. Simultaneously, You know, my lady, she
mentions that she's pregnant. Before I could quit, they
fired me from there. But I was happy, you
know, even though my mom Was battling cancer,
month-old son at home, I Was like, I know it's
going to be okay, you Know, deep down. But
ultimately, that's like The last job I had
because after then I was Like, All right.
Something has to change. Simultaneously, the
website is going pretty Well. We're getting a lot
more serious about pop Ups, our e commerce. So things are moving in
different cycles, Different cylinders all
at the same time. But COVID hit. My family was ready to
sell their home in Piscataway. The decision behind the
subscription model was the Fact that we needed to
raise money. We saw that certain
individuals would purchase From our website

For instance, every year
buy 12 items. So for the subscription
we did a couple of tiers. I think we did like a
$200 level, a $500 level And like $1,000 level. A lot of people were into
it because, like I said, They were already
spending that money with Us. But at least on our
side, if we had all the Money in a lump sum, it
would allow us to activate That capital, to build a
system to invest into Machinery or something
that would be pivotal to Our growth and scale. I used to work at a
sneaker store down the Street, actually on
Market Street. That was an eye opening
experience because one, I Didn't know how much my
people- black people, shop For shoes. Two, I
recognized a shopping Culture in Newark that I
didn't appreciate. All the while we're
spending all this money, We're not getting the
customer service I think That we deserve or even
the customer thought they Deserved. Opening our
shop, it's going to smell Nice. It's going to look
nice, it's going to look Clean. We're going to
talk well, we're going to Present ourself properly. Whether you're spending
five bucks or $500, you Should leave here feeling
appreciated. You know, dignified. We take donated things,
upcycled things, and we Rework it. Whether it be turning
shorts into jeans or jeans Into shorts. Patchwork
this, patchwork that. We love getting funky, you
know, with some of that stuff. We have our mainline stuff
our graphic apparel. You know, we have our line that says
“Think Bigger” that We consistently hold in
shop. That's one of our

Slogans. We also do a lot
of one of one piece with Our tailor shop and
production team. There's honestly no
typical day. My son wakes up at 6 a.m. He's expecting breakfast. He's expecting, you know,
this and that. So ultimately, that's
making me wake up at six Or 7:00, going to my
store at 8:30. Even though our store
opens at 11, you know, now I have 8:30 to 11 to kind
of overprepare for the Day. So because of that,
it's made me better. I try to do the same
thing every morning to Standardize my day, plan
it out. From there. BrownMill
takes control, whether it Whether it be some alterations or
communicating with my team, Planning for the
next event, planning for Our next collection. I'm
doing a little bit of Everything each day. I'm grateful for it. Newark is a big spot for
filming, you know, with Movies or shows. So a lot of times
stylists would come in And, Oh man, this is
here, this is dope. They'll pull stuff, buy
a whole bunch of stuff at The same time. That's how
kind of the Gabrielle Union/Dwyane Wade thing
happened. The stylist came in and
bought a whole bunch of Items, and ultimately
Dwyane Wade liked them and Started rocking them. And
after a while Carmelo Anthony and other
NBA players. Andre Iguodala, many more. Newark is a unique city. You know, it's so rich in
culture, heritage Potential and it's
progressing fast.

I want to be able to give
a lot of Newarkians Insight of what is
possible. We were young people that
started a business and now Have a store. I think
there's a lot of young People here in Newark
that might have the same Aspirations but not have
a reference point. I know I didn't, you
know, growing up in Piscataway. That's why I
kind of looked elsewhere And saw that it was
possible. We want to grow the
business. We don't want to Grow to be too big,
because then we kind of Lose a quality control or
a level of coolness, right? Within five years
definitely like to have Another store, maybe two
located in growing black Communities that we can
serve maybe somewhere in Atlanta, maybe LA, maybe
Accra, Ghana. One of the biggest things
we're working on is Developing more retail
partners. For us, we don't Have any retail clients,
so the fact that we're Doing those numbers
direct to customer, our Million dollar, $2
million goal, I think it's Definitely feasible. People come in here every
day with all types of Characters. And I think
one of the things I Realized this year is how
important it is to be kind To people. People can
have any type of day Outside of here. So when
you're walking out of Here, you're having a
better day than when you Came in.

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