By Elizabeth Gracen:
EG: TJ Swagg! Thank you so much for doing this interview. I saw your dynamic feed on Instagram and just had to reach out to you. Let’s start from scratch. Please tell our readers a little bit about you.
TJ: I am a 13-year-old entrepreneur with one dream: Peace and Love for all!
I have personally experienced many hardships growing up, facing health issues, dealing with bullying, racism, and finding it hard at times to fit in. I realized that many of today’s youth are experiencing the same challenges with very limited resources. I want to also give back to my beautiful people, my community, through charity donations to the Tara Boom Houston (Cancer) Foundation in London, Ontario, and providing resources and donations to the youth of Brampton, Ontario. Encouraging everyone, especially the younger generation, to Believe that all is possible (even through troubled times), and Brown Brothers and Sisters are here to help make that happen!
My story behind the Brown Brother Brand is my passion for diversity, equality, peace, and love within all mankind, recognizing that we have all experienced hard times but can stand together as a community, as a nation, and love one another through peace and respect. As brothers and sisters, we can make a difference.
Together we can stop Racism!
Together we can stop Hate!
Together we can stop Bullying!
Together we have each other, Imagine Peace!
I dream that one day Brown Brothers is recognized by all who wear my swagg and know that I am here to listen and spread the Love and express the beauty of diversity and stop all hate!
EG: What motivates you, and why did you decide to launch a clothing line?
TJ: My mom (Dalila) and dad (Irtiz) are my biggest motivators, not only do they always encourage me to see the good in people but also to [look for] a very positive outcome with any difficult situation I may come across. Brown Brothers has always been close to my heart. My dad and Uncle Mooch grew up in London, Ontario, and being a minority, they faced racism and found it hard to fit in (just like many kids nowadays) until they began giving back to their community through sports and charity events.
I decided to bring back the Brown Brothers Swagg to send a message to all that together we got this! Not only am I enjoying it and keeping my mind hard at work developing designs that will promote a positive, powerful message but also through my brand I can give back and help so many kids, teens, and adults who may be feeling disconnected from the world through bullying, racism, or may be feeling unaccepted or struggling with this pandemic.
EG: You’re only thirteen, but you seem to be so focused and driven. I do a lot of interviews with young Gen Z people. I think that your generation is an outstanding, game-changing force to be reckoned with. What is your biggest concern about the world right now?
TJ: We have all been forced to take the test, the test of patience, strength, and motivation to keeping going and NOT give up, appreciating the little things in life, the importance of family and friends, kindness amongst us all. We have all had to learn to extend our hand to help others or just take the time to listen to people’s needs. Every life is BEAUTIFUL, we were not all made to be the same. Being different and believing that all cultures, religious beliefs are welcomed in this diverse world is acceptable. Your color of skin does not define you but makes you amazing!!
If I can get a handful people to Believe and Respect one another, together we can unite and live peacefully.
EG: We’re all ever-so-slowly coming out from the shadow of Covid-19. What was it like for you to have to go into quarantine? What were the biggest challenges for you?
TJ: Covid has impacted me both mentally and physically. Having very minimal contact with my friends and family has been very hard. Seeing many of my local small businesses having to reduce their staff or close down. Not being able to celebrate milestones in my life with my family and friends. The biggest fear I have is not knowing what to expect next, the fear of not knowing what is to come. Will we ever have a normal life again?
But also being grateful to all the first responders who have been forced to work around the clock and stay away from their families and friends to ensure my well-being, working together more than ever to reassure us that we can conquer Covid.
EG: What do you hope for the future? Are you optimistic about turning around some of the biggest challenges mankind has ever faced—like climate change?
TJ: My hope for the future would be for all human kind to unite in a peaceful way and allow me and my generation to grow into kind, loving adults by taking care of each other and our planet, finding global-warming solutions in our everyday activities. I feel this will bring people together around a common goal. The planet is very much like us, if we take care of our own health, we too can preserve the health of the planet for future generations to come. Every small change we can make in our communities, such as plant a tree, choose eco-friendly products, or reduce emissions, are ways we can all do our part to help with climate change.
EG: What are your plans for Brown Brother Swagg? What’s next for you? I know it’s a little early in your life to have all the answers, but what do you think you’ll be doing 10 years from now? 20 years from now?
TJ: My goal right now, is to spread the word of Diversity, Equality, and unite people with Kindness and Peace. Show Love for all mankind, as we are all one human race!!
I have set a goal of 5 years that through the sales of my clothing line, I will be able to open up a mobile Brown Brother Bus, where I can reach out personally to all my “Believers” and where I can invite all to spend time we me in a positive environment, where we can make positive change. I would like to be able to engage today’s youth, be a big brother or a mentor. This will allow me to grow spiritually but also give back to my community and the world.
In 10 years, I hope to see the world in a better place, a place where men and women are equal. Where all kids can go to school and not be judged for the color of their skin or what clothing they are wearing. A world where kids can feel beautiful in the skin they are in and focus on learning, becoming the best they can and follow their dreams.
In 20 years? Imagine all the beautiful people living in peace.
EG: Please share anything that is on your mind. I am so impressed with your energy and good-hearted spirit. Wishing you all the best for a bright future!
TJ: Lastly, I want to talk about the reason why I choose an Elephant as my mascot. Elephants are almost extinct, and yet poachers still hunt them for their tusks. They are very powerful in size but a very peaceful animal. They bring much belief to many cultures, and it was my way of expressing how we too can be powerful and peaceful at the same time.
Thank you so much Ms. Elizabeth for this opportunity and believing in me. Already you have made a big difference in my life, and I would like my story to be an inspiration for many kids my age. After all, we all have the same equal opportunity to be kind to one another, to embrace the beauty of this diverse world, and come together to show compassion for all and help one another bring our dreams to reality.
Check out the fantastic merchandise on my website, and follow me on the socials!
Facebook: TJ Brownbrother