Updated: Oct 19, 2021
This July and August we've had the joyful experience of opening our business doors to nine talented high schoolers and recent graduates from Holyoke. Gaining work experience through the YouthWorks program in Holyoke, they worked with us to give our retail space a total make-over this summer, and are hosting a ‘Sneaker Mixer’ event this Saturday August 7th. The event will unveil their redesigned storefront, and will be a space for everyone in the community to celebrate youth influence in fashion and culture.
The nine youth working with Paper City Clothing Company this summer are Angel Soto, Aris Cajigas, Aureliys Candelario, Edwin ‘Cito’ Aviles, Jhendry Payamps, Kevin Garcia, Aida ‘Lucky’ Laboy, Mauricio Palacio, and Eli Ramirez. Mad love to all of these incredible talented people!
Our core staff here at Paper City Clothing Co staff - Carlos Peña, Fernando Goffe, and Katy Moonan - have been working with the youth crew Tuesday through Saturday on projects ranging from inventory management, to shop cleanouts, to vending at the Holyoke Farmer's Market. But their main focus was to engage the youth in a redesign, in a way that they could really feel complete ownership of the storefront space. "We said to them: This is your store now too. Your friends are not coming here to shop, and we want them to. What should we improve, what do we need to change? The youth told us we needed to change everything about the store. So we handed it over to them!”
When asked how the experience has been, youth crew member Jhendry Payamps commented: “We have the power to change what we want, to what we want with the event, so we are giving it our own twist. I’ve always wanted to learn how to make clothing but have never had the chance to and they’re helping me out with that.”
Cito Aviles has particularly enjoyed being in an entrepreneurial environment and learning about running a business: “I like that we get to come up with the ideas. Entrepreneurship as well, they teach us how to run a business how to organize things, that’s how our event came about.” Aurelyis Candelario shared she’s most excited about having been able to have leadership roles in making things happen; “It feels like we can really manage something by ourselves” she said.
Our work with youth in 2020 and 2021 is made possible through the support of the MassDevelopment TDI Creative Catalyst Grant Program. YouthWorks, run locally by MassHire Holyoke, is a state-funded youth employment program that helps teens and young adults get the skills and experience needed to find and keep jobs.