Starting a business is fairly difficult. Starting a business as a teenager while attending high school should be nearly impossible.
For Isaiah and Josh Duarte, starting a business is something that they do on a Tuesday.
Living in the Santa Clarita Valley, residents sometimes feel secluded at times due to the relative distance from Los Angeles.
For Josh and Isaiah Duarte, Los Angeles is a 45-minute to an hour drive in their parents’ car from their house in Santa Clarita. It’s an area where the brothers have found a way to be proactive in the fight to help the less fortunate.
Taking time out of their busy schedules, the Duarte brothers, who run for the Saugus track and field and cross country team, have been exemplary citizens, let alone teenagers, by distributing clothing, socks and blankets and other items to the homeless in the Santa Clarita Valley as well as throughout the city of Los Angeles.
“To be honest, they are well ahead of the game,” said Saugus cross country and track and field coach Kevin Berns. “Their parents have instilled responsibility and to give back to the community. They are just leaders and a lot of the team has gone with them.”
Starting out with “25Score Card”, a local fundraising organization in the Santa Clarita Valley that partners with schools, sports teams and other organizations to provide discounts and savings, Isaiah had the bright idea of giving some of the proceeds of each card that he sold to buy some essentials for the homeless.
“I said to myself, ‘What can I do to really help out those that don’t have that much?’” Isaiah said.
Father Ethan, a priest from the Duarte’s church, “Our Lady of Perpetual Hope,” who told Isaiah about “Share A Meal,” a community of organizations and individuals who join hands to serve freshly made meals and more to people in need.
The Duarte brothers were sold.
“Things just started to unravel,” Josh said. “The organization is not religious, it’s just people who want to give. Anybody who has time out of their day, just come out. There is no judgment, just consideration and love.”
The brother’s next fundraising venture, “World’s Finest Chocolate”, which Josh started, allowed the brothers to buy more supplies for the homeless. But still, Isaiah wanted to find a product that he could sell for a profit and still give back to the less fortunate.
“He has always been extremely passionate about making money and trying to figure out how to help the community,” Josh said. “He did a lot of research and he needed some help from me. When it came down to “World’s Finest Chocolate,” we didn’t start with very much and we worked our way into it.”
Being the ingenious Centurion that he is, Isaiah came up with the idea of starting a bow tie business.
“I always went to dances and performances with my friends and I thought, why not start selling bow ties?” Isaiah said.
Launching “Isaiah’s Bow Ties” in October of 2017, Isaiah began selling bow ties to friends and family to get some feedback before he made it available to the public.
The bow ties were sold for $10 a piece with 25 percent of the proceeds going to help out the homeless.
Getting great feedback from the community, Isaiah realized that this was something that he could pursue further and grow into a legitimate business.
“What I learned with my bow tie business is that it’s not just about the bow ties, it’s about being a business person and at the same time just showing love and being selfless,” Isaiah said.
Having a full slate with school, track and field, friends and family and a business to run is not an easy thing to do by any means, but the Duarte brothers have found a way to balance it all out.
“We always show up to practice on time and make sure that we handle our things, but he’s like my sidekick because it’s my business and our parents help too,” Isaiah said jokingly.
“During the school year, I put my bow ties to the side a little bit because obviously, academic excellence is very important to us so we have to focus on that.”
Having spoken with a couple local organizations, like AK Printings, the Duarte brothers have already captivated interest and support for the cause within the community and look to grow the business.
“Right now I’m starting my website,” Isaiah said. “Another thing that I just got is a credit card swiper so I will be able to accept credit card transactions, but I really want to stay local so people can get an idea of what I’m doing.”
With summer just underway, Isaiah and Josh have another couple months do dedicate bow ties and giving back to the community.
“We want to be able to provide as many clothes, underwear and socks to the less fortunate,” Isaiah said. “I love to see the smiles on their faces and it always makes me come back. When I go out with people I see the joy on people’s faces.
“I have fun selling things, it’s my passion, but I love to give back to my community.”