Across the Bonita Vista High School campus, shirts printed with the three bold red letters YNE have become increasingly popular among the student body. The mysterious nature of the acronym brought confusion and curiosity to students as the trend gained popularity among the classes. Junior Michael Perri created the clothing line Young Ni**a Entrepreneurs at the start of the month of April with close friends, aiming to bring affordable clothing to the school. Ranging from t-shirts to hoodies, Perri stuffs his backpack with his brand’s merchandise to sell throughout the school day.
“I made the company for all the young people out there especially for the ones that come from backgrounds like me where money is very sparse. Ni**a is a word that I really want to take the power away from it and, in my opinion, the only way to do it is to use it. It is also just a part of who I am as a black person and where I grew up,” Perri said. “I think that the term only affects people who are afraid of it. In all honesty [Ni**ga] is used all around school and all around the country but most people are afraid to admit it. It’s a word that is given it’s power by those who look at it as the same derogatory term it once was.”
Perri came up with the idea of YNE with close friend, junior Elijah Flores. Flores, who is the executive salesman for YNE, gains most of the sales for the clothing line. Perri and his friends advertise their brand in school and through social media, hoping to attract a broader audience.
“I’ve always wanted to start my own [clothing line]. Since I was a little kid, I liked to design clothes for my toys and stuff, I have always been into clothes. It was pretty simple designing the shirts, we do free advertising and spread by word of mouth to find people who want to buy our brand, order it in one shipment and then disperse it,” Perri said.
Flores states that Perri came up with the idea of YNE as a random thought between the two of them. However, Flores was not the only friend that helped Perri create the brand. Many of Perri’s closest friends, such as junior Lawrence Gaona, helped pitch in money to order the first batch of t-shirts while others offered their support.
“I was more focused on providing moral support and once they really needed me financially I was there for them whenever they needed. Money is hard work and in order to get it you just have to join in,” Gaona said.
Both Flores and Gaona state that the process of creating the clothing brand was not very simple. It caused strains within the group and their friendship when it came to trusting each other economically.
“We had a situation where Michael wasn’t here for awhile so some of the people in the group were doubting whether or not we would be able to do it but we worked it out and now we are just doing our thing,” Flores said.
In the first batch sold, Perri stated he wanted to gain people’s trust by not making them pay upfront but rather in person with the piece of clothing present when selling. Everyone involved in YNE took part in the decision.
“It’s like we all do the same thing, however I’ve designed everything so far. Other than that, we have all just tried to find people to sell to and we all have our own say in the creative process as in whether we think it’s a good idea or not,” Perri said.
Perri hopes to expand his brand and potentially make it a clothing company in the future, as for now he plans to gain an audience outside of school grounds. Recently, YNE broadened their sales by including hoodies and hats in the second batch that they plan on ordering for their buyers.
“Honestly I am not rich but I’m also not poor. This company was based off of helping people who don’t have a lot of money to get cheap and affordable clothing. I liked the idea of how Michael came up with it, so I jumped on board,” Flores said.
YNE sell their t-shirts for 15 dollars while their hats and hoodies sell for about 30 dollars. Although Perri hopes to become a trending clothing line, he wants to maintain reasonable prices for his customers.
“I have always looked up to the Supreme clothing brand and clothing brands similar to it. They described just who I was. One day I would like to be in that same category as an elite clothing brand. The one difference for sure is I don’t want to sell stuff for their prices because they are ridiculous,” Perri said.