The first black sweatshirt started it all. It had smooth black cloth with reflective vinyl, and the now familiar Young Vision Apparel logo on the front and back. Caleb Drummond, a sophomore finance major at ORU recalls this day as the official start of his business. Before anything else he wanted to bring the new apparel business before God, and that is exactly what he did.
“The first thing I did was take the sweatshirt to the prayer tower. I prayed over it and the entire business,” Drummond continued. “I didn’t only pray for me, but for the people that I knew would wear our stuff, eventually asking God that he would bring up the young visionary in everyone.”
Young Visionary Apparel is a locally black owned business out of Tulsa, Oklahoma run by Caleb Drummond and Seth Stirling, a marketing major. These two entrepreneurs from Baltimore, Maryland have one goal for their fast-growing business—to bring up a young visionary in everyone. Drummond and Sterling have created each piece of merchandise to have biblical context or references in hopes to bring light to Christian morals and beliefs.
“Part of us creating YVA was to show the people who weren’t as fortunate as us, that there are opportunities that no matter what your circumstance is, no matter your upbringing, you can be a young visionary,” Drummond recalled. “You can find your calling and God; pursue and chase that dream with all that you have.”
Young Visionary Apparel was definitely not the first business name the two young entrepreneurs had in mind. A potential name was ‘No Fear.’ They originally wanted a name that promoted growth in people. They did not want something that deteriorated or had a negative connotation. After about 45 minutes of tossing names back and forth, the pair knew that Young Visionary Apparel was a good fit toward the company’s branding.
“I don’t think that your age is a definitive factor of whether you can or can’t do something,” Stirling explained. “We started this business with two credit cards, back then, starting it on two credit cards wasn’t even an idea.”
Drummond and Stirling both recall exactly how the death of George Floyd impacted their business.
According to the New York Post, 75 percent of black business owners have seen an increase in revenue since the beginning of June, the time of Black Lives Matter protests following the death of George Floyd. Support for the black community also increased substantially during this time.
“We did see an increase in numbers since June. We recently got a notification from Shopify telling us that we’re in the top 24 percent of stores that were created around the same time as us,” said Drummond.
Drummond recalls the impact Floyd’s death had on not only their business, but on all black owned businesses and the black community as a whole.
“It is extremely heartbreaking to see that it took a man to lose his life. It took many people to lose their lives… it was just a tipping point for black people to be recognized as legitimate entrepreneurs.”
“More awareness is being brought to the fact that black people aren’t being treated equally. I think that the reason why businesses have started to bloom after that is because people are trying to make amends for that.” Stirling said. “It’s sad to say this, but in like a year, when all of this has passed…it’s not going to be a “support black owned businesses” hashtag (trending), it’s just going to be “support my business.”
“There have been other black brands that have reached out to work with us,” said Drummond. “Including local black artists who want to promote their work.”
Both men visualize a future where supporting a black business is not just a trend, but a lifestyle where black lawyers, teachers, doctors, etc. continuously support one another. They call for there to be more than just hashtags and stickers, but a push for change.
All products from YVA are completely made by hand. Drummond and Stirling work day and night printing, designing and shipping YVA merchandise. All of it has been done within the four walls of their dorm room.
“In the next 5 to 10 years I see us in a building, in an actual shop,” said Stirling. “I definitely see us helping other people chase their God given dream and vision.”
Within the near future YVA owners hope to employ others. Alongside this, they plan to have new machines and greater expansion, including personal offices, greater entrepreneurial relationships, and higher demand.
YVA is currently seeking talented people from the local Tulsa community to bring their God given talents to the team. Some of these volunteer positions include photography, modeling, and designing. For more information from YVA Apparel and to view their latest clothing lines, visit www.youngvisionaryapparel.com.
“Young visionary is not just associated with age—an 80-year-old can be a young visionary if they have a dream, and they have the strive and will to get to that dream,” explained Drummond.
“When I think of young visionary, I think of how God wants us to all to be like children, and just yearn after him with the love and the burning passion of a child,” Stirling added.