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Soumaila Sanogo ‘23 and Shamar Benton ‘23 give free Two Kids Apparel shirts to the homeless.

Photo courtesy of Shamar Benton

Soumaila Sanogo ‘23 and Shamar Benton ‘23 give free Two Kids Apparel shirts to the homeless.

Two Kids Apparel

Two City High sophomores, Soumaila Sanogo and Shamar Benton, started their own business called TwoKidsApparel

Scrolling through Instagram, one might come across the page of TwoKidsApparel, a business recently started by two City High students, Soumaila Sanogo ‘23 and Shamar Benton ‘23. With a vision of supporting social justice and helping the community, Sanogo and Benton started selling their shirts in honor of Black History Month. 

“We wanted something different on the back of our shirts to show what we’re about,” Soumaila Sanogo said. “We came up with a lady with an afro that symbolizes Black Lives Matter. It shows how strong the afro can be.”

Sanogo and Benton began their business around two months ago, since then, they have sold T-shirts to Iowa City, Coralville, Des Moines and Chicago.

“We branched off how we used to do [business], we were always cutting grass and shoveling snow. We’ve always been entrepreneurs by heart. We said, ‘look, can we do it?’” Sanogo said.

Shamar’s brother, Byron Benton ‘21, played a part in pushing the two towards their goals of starting this business.

We came up with a lady with an afro that symbolizes Black Lives Matter. It shows how strong the afro can be.”

— Soumaila Sanogo

“[My brother] really helped us [when starting out] because he motivated us,” Benton said. “I feel like he didn’t really want to be part of it because he wasn’t sure how it was gonna go, but he always really told us that we should put our idea on a shirt.” 

Along with support from family, Sanogo and Benton sought out guidance from Andre Wright, a fashion activist and co-founder of the Iowa City based brand, Humanize My Hoodie. Andre Wright gave the two advice about starting their own business. 

To supporters of the brand, TwoKidsApparel is more than just a T-shirt selling business. Sanogo and Benton are committed to helping their community in numerous ways, such as giving back to the homeless.

“We just want to help,” Benton said. “When people buy TwoKidsApparel, they’re helping other people. When they buy, it gives us [resources] that we could give back to the homeless. It helps us and it helps the homeless.” 

Using the platform they have gained from starting their business, they are looking towards doing more, such as a food drive. 

“We don’t want to just be worrying about selling clothes,” Sanogo said. “We want to be helping people, with school, clothes, and food. We were also planning on setting up a food drive this summer to help out people who can afford to eat at home.”

Sanogo and Benton are both sophomores in high school, an age that has created both obstacles and opportunities. While navigating those challenges, some aspects of balancing high school with their business have been difficult.

“Sometimes it would be stressful because we both played basketball. It would be hard to drop off shirts for teachers because of practice, but we always make a way for it,” Benton said. 

On the other hand, they have enjoyed the connections and communication that City High has brought to their brand. Many students and teachers have supported it, by purchasing shirts and following their social media. 

“I feel like we create a better audience being in high school,” Benton said. “People will want to buy from TwoKidsApparel because of our story behind it. It’s so legit and authentic, that people can relate to [the brand].” 

Overall, City High has helped TwoKidsApparel take off and branch into new places.

“City High is a very powerful place. We can do anything we put our mind to. I believe that using City High, we can really go far with this,” Sanogo said. 

Within the community of City High, AJ Leman, a business teacher, has supported TwoKidsApparel in giving the two encouragement. Leman can also be spotted sporting a shirt.

“I have Soumaila in class and he told me about the idea,” Leman explained. “In fact, he has told me about numerous business ideas.  It’s always exciting to see students take initiative and be creative with ideas.”

Leman explained that he enjoys supporting student businesses and fostering their creativity. 

“I love the logo and the font used for the initial Black Lives Matter T-shirt. It’s wonderful to see students produce something and make social justice a foundational element of the brand,” Leman said. 

Starting the brand has also allowed Sanogo and Benton to become closer with the community around them. 

“Our favorite part has been meeting new people,” Benton said. “Recently, I’ve met so many people that I never thought I would ever speak to. We build so many connections and I feel like that’s going to help the business in the long run.”

Sanogo and Benton created an Instagram for their business. The brand can be found @twokidsapparel (Jesse Hausknecht-Brown)

 

Sanogo and Benton are happy with how far the business has come in the past two months. Their first batch of t-shirts has sold out, and they are working to restock with the addition of sweatshirts. They will continue to produce their Black Lives Matter design on their clothing.

“What the world is going through right now, we feel like Black Lives Matter shirts would go well with the environment in our school.” Benton said. 

Looking towards the future, they hope to expand and reach more people through their business. 

“Within the next six months, we want to be a business where people could shop from a whole another state,” Benton said. “We want to be a global business, with our restock we’re planning on like going a little farther out into the world.”

To purchase from TwoKidsApparel, contact the business on their Instagram, @TwoKidsApparel. 

 

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