11-year-old opens thrift shop to help families in need
Mariya Moseley/ABC News(NEW YORK) — An 11-year-old entrepreneur is chasing his dreams and making a difference in his community at the same time.
Obocho Peters, a Brooklyn, New York fifth-grader who has the title of CEO for Obocho’s Closet, is on a mission to help low-income families save money on clothes while also advocating for the importance of education.
He first created his online thrift shop, which sells donated clothes and shoes for children under $10. His business, I Am Obocho LLC, was established in 2018. In December, he officially achieved his goal of opening a physical store location in Brooklyn’s Flatbush neighborhood on his 11th birthday.
He said the idea first emerged after he went to see Avengers: Infinity War and asked his mom for toys of characters from the film. He learned that she couldn’t afford them, so he sold some of his old clothes to get money to buy them. That’s when he said he realized that other kids around him may have the same issue and that he wanted to help.
“I was inspired by all the superheroes helping to make the world a better place,” Obocho said. “I wanted to be a hero myself by helping my mom.”
From there, he started collecting donations from the community and raised more than $10,000 from his GoFundMe campaign to open his shop. He says that he knew that he needed a space after his home started to fill up with donations.
Prior to getting his shop, Obocho spread the word about his business by setting up shop at his local discount store Bargain Land along with selling items as a vendor at events.
His mother, Sasha Peters, who is a single mother originally from St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, believes that parents’ investment into their children’s dreams plays a huge part in their child’s success.
“You have to nurture kids when they come up with ideas and you have to pay attention to everything they say because they’re telling you how to groom them to be a better version of themselves,” she told ABC News.
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams awarded Obocho as one of the “Heroes of the Month” last June — an honor that celebrates people for their bravery, selflessness and service.
Adams says that he’s proud that his team got to give Obocho the distinction because of his “sense of his obligation to give back.”
“This young man personifies the great things young people are doing across our country and particularly in Brooklyn,” Adams told ABC News.
In addition to Peters assisting her son with the launch of his website, she also registered him for business classes after school to help cultivate his entrepreneurial spirit.
She also became inspired to fulfill her dreams of becoming a fashion designer and seamstress and recently quit her job as a social worker. She said that she also plans to help her son build his brand, which includes operating his social media pages and coordinating events.
Among the local events are financial literacy sessions where Obocho hosts dozens of participants ranging from 5 to 55 years old. The seminars, which have nearly tripled with participants since the first session, are geared towards teaching families how to save for college.
Peters says that for her, seeing her son’s personal growth is one of the things she’s most proud of as she recalls him being a “shy kid” who would frequently have panic attacks before speaking engagements — and with the help of mentors such as local entrepreneur and music artist, Mental Barton, he’s already beginning to break out of his shell.
Earlier this month, he received a standing ovation while delivering opening remarks during a Black History Month event hosted by The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce as he discussed his business and future endeavors.
Barton, who has been mentoring Obocho for about two years, says that he’s grateful for the chance to help him build “his own voice and abilities” by allowing him to join him on stage during performances across New York City.
“His drive and vision has gotten much bigger… I see him breaking outstanding barriers,” Barton said.
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