They’re teen tycoons!
A group of enterprising Red Hook young adults just launched their own marketing firm, offering local businesses their services as canvassers, sign-wavers, researchers, and social media campaigners — a gig they say they’re particularly qualified to perform.
“We grew up with social media — we’ll teach you how to do it,” said Jeremiah Ortiz, a 17-year-old co-operator of upstart marketing outfit Kaluk.
Most of the dozen emerging entrepreneurs, aged between 17 and 24, are graduates of the neighborhood’s South Brooklyn Community High School — a transfer school for kids who have fallen behind academically or who previously dropped out of school.
The youths own and run their business as a cooperative, sharing the risk and reward, a mentor said.
“This is a business where the workers are the owners and practice democratic decision-making and equitable sharing of revenue,” said Reg Flowers, a coordinator from youth-assistance agency Good Shepherd Services who is shepherding the youths through the co-op’s launch.
The young magnates say they won’t just hawk anyone’s wares — Kaluk aims to work with other groups in the neighborhood.
“We’re here for the community — anything that’s community-based, we’ll help them,” said 23-year-old co-operator Brittany Boynton.
In the months before their official launch on July 14, the Kaluk team took on jobs for the Red Hook Community Farm — dressing up in pea-pod costumes to promote a farmer’s market — and Councilman Carlos Menchaca (D–Red Hook).
The local lawmaker said the kids were integral to his recent push to get more locals involved in participatory budgeting — a program where residents help decide where local funds are allocated — and thanks to their hard work, his district ultimately had more participants than anywhere else in the city.
“I can personally attest to the value of Kaluk because I had the honor of being one of their first customers,” Menchaca said.
Flowers said he will eventually let the group stand on its own 24 feet, but for now, he is there to catch the youngsters if they fall.
“We’re in it for the long haul, but the hope is to get them to autonomy as quick as possible,” Flowers said.