These stylish Philly dudes launched a socially conscious fashion lineNovember 28, 2016 Category: Feature, Featured, Medium, People
Francis Young is a hustler. A stylish hustler.
The Northeast Philly native held down a full-time job managing a gas station in Chinatown while he completed his degree in criminal justice and Spanish at Temple.
All the while, Young indulged in fashion — especially sneakers.
“It was my little vice,” he said, talking about shopping.
Back then, when he was still in college, he’d often visit Abakus Takeout, a well-loved Chinatown restaurant-turned-streetwear shop, to browse and consign. That’s how he met Saeed Ferguson — a kindred stylish hustler, one who started interning at Abakus when he was still in high school and never left, working with the Abakus owners all throughout his time at Temple.
Now, Young, 25, and Ferguson, 21, are at it together with a business of their own, a socially conscious fashion line called Paratodo. A take on the Spanish words for “for all,” Paratodo released its first collection last month: simple t-shirts, five-panel hats and crew-neck sweatshirts with a waxed nylon breast pocket, all made in the U.S. The two-tone jackets are the collection’s stunners.
You can also find their beanies at Washington Square coffee shop Arterial Agents.
One thing that the Paratodo team hopes will set them apart: It plans to give 25 percent of their profits to a different charity each season. This first collection’s proceeds will go to animal shelter PAWS.
The charitable bent of the business is important to Young, the one behind the designs, because, as he puts it, he always felt that fashion was a selfish endeavor. This is his way of making something more meaningful.
That’s how he introduced the business to a packed crowd at Ps and Qs, the South Street shop from Abakus’s owners where both Young and Ferguson work, on a cool night last month. (Young manages Ps and Qs new women’s store on Pine Street and also dabbles in modeling for the shop, while Ferguson manages the flagship on South Street.) The pair talked about how they wanted to eventually give money to the School District of Philadelphia, from which they both graduated.
Last Wednesday changed my life and I owe it to you guys for supporting us and our ideas! pic.twitter.com/B0hNmltzK2
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— Saeed Akil Ferguson (@saeedferguson) October 13, 2016
Another socially conscious move on Paratodo’s part: It makes everything in the United States, so that they know the people making the clothes are getting paid a living wage. Plus, they can stop in to their manufacturer in North New Jersey whenever they want.
Paratodo’s launch struck us because it’s not everyday you see two young people starting a company that’s so capital- and labor-intensive (tech companies, which are a dime a dozen among millennials, are usually significantly less capital-intensive to start up — you don’t need to source materials or find a manufacturer, all you need is a laptop), and on top of that, has a charitable focus. Though of course, this isn’t a new model — it’s one made popular by companies like Toms and Warby Parker and locally, United by Blue.
And it seems like the founders have gone all in: Young tapped into his savings, money that was meant to go toward paying off his college debt, to get Paratodo off the ground. But so far, he said, it’s been worth it, he said.
The company was his way of throwing himself into something he actually cared about and enjoyed, a response to how unhappy he was at college.
“I was having a crisis,” Young said, talking about his time at Temple. “I hated [studying] criminal justice.”
Ferguson said felt the same way about his marketing degree at Temple. He ended up dropping out. (Young finished his degree. Otherwise, he said, “my parents would’ve hated me.”)
And if it doesn’t work out?
“At least we gave it a shot,” Young said.