Did you know that 41% of Gen Zers say they want to be entrepreneurs? Well, with the help of global teen retailer Hollister Co., budding entrepreneurs and future business owners will get a chance to dream bigger and bring their visions to life with an added bonus of monetary value. That’s right – we’re talking scholarships!
As opposed to a traditional brand ambassador program, Hollister Co.’s nationwide brand ambassador program Brand Agent Program was re-launched this year with a special added bonus. The brand agents, which are selected high school students from across the country, are awarded with the Hollister FWD Fund, which is a platform designed to monetarily fuel teens’ passions and empower the next generation of changemakers.
“Our brand agents have their sights set high on their future and are going above and beyond the typical teenage responsibilities to change their communities and make a difference,” said Kristin Scott, Global Brand President at Abercrombie & Fitch Co in a press statement. “Their perspectives and pursuits are indicators of the meaningful change that Gen Z is championing, and we’re thrilled to be a part of uplifting their voices and supporting their futures.”
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 28: Taylor Kettle, Marsai Martin, Zikora Akanegbu, MIchael Burrell, Zara Mendes, Gabby Ragsdale, Brooke Sibala, and Antonio Arguelles attend Marsai Martin Teen Inclusive-Design Prodigies funded by Hollister at Spring Studios on June 28, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
On June 28, Black-ish star and Mari by Marsai founder Marsai Martin hosted an event with Hollister at Spring Studios in New York City to showcase the projects of several Brand Agents. Amongst the selected Brand Agents included Gabby Ragsdale (Los Angeles, CA), Michael Burrell, Jr. (Chicago, IL), Brooke Sibla (San Diego, CA), Antonio Arguelles (Houston, TX), Zara Mendes (New Jersey), and Zikora Akanegbu (Washington, D.C./Maryland). Each of their projects were deeply rooted in their connection to their cultural background, sustainability, gender identity, or heritage as it relates to their passion for fashion.
“Yesterday, I was honored to host a special event with @hollisterco to celebrate some incredible teens who designed their own fashion pieces with grants from HCo’s FWD Fund,” Martin wrote in a heartfelt Instagram post. “Gen Z has been through so much, and it’s teens like these who give me hope that we are going to change the world!”
When asked by Girls United about supporting young designers in the early stages of their careers, Martin didn’t hesitate to express her empathy. “It’s important because up and coming designers of all ages depend on the cool factor to make them feel good. I also understand what it feels like to be a teenager with big ideas, and if I didn’t have the support i did who knows where I would be right now,” Martin told Girls United.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 28: (L-R) Marsai Martin, Zikora Akanegbu, MIchael Burrell, Zara Mendes, Gabby Ragsdale, Brooke Sibala and Antonio Arguelles attend Marsai Martin Teen Inclusive-Design Prodigies funded by Hollister at Spring Studios on June 28, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Martin, who is also the youngest executive producer in TV history, will unapologetically use her platform to “continue to support and wear up-and-coming designers,” especially Black-owned designers. For those young designers reading this look for a chance to style the star, she told Girls United that she identifies her style as “daring and confident” as opposed to her younger years before she identified her personal style.
“I was five [years-old] when I started in the business and nine [years-old] when I started attending industry events, so I went from my parents shopping for me at the mall for rompers and frilly dresses to really gaining an eye for fashion,” Martin told GU. “I love to dress for comfort but also like show-stopping looks for award shows and personal appearances. I use my voice to let my personal style shine through.”
As a piece of personal advice that she would give to young designers, Martin leaves the Brand Agents with these words: “If it’s something you really want, manifest and push for what you want! Also if It feels like things aren’t working for you at the moment, there’s no pressure to stick to one plan. Pivot if you need to!”
Photo Credit: NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 28: Marsai Martin attends Marsai Martin Teen Inclusive-Design Prodigies funded by Hollister at Spring Studios on June 28, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)