Sitting in an empty computer lab on Chilliwack Secondary School’s top floor, Grade 12 student Dylan Murdy and his entrepreneurship teacher, Matthew Ferris, discuss Murdy’s class project, Paramnt Street Wear.
The class, which Ferris has been teaching for the past decade, is designed to give high school students a more realistic view of the life that’s waiting for them once they graduate.
“Courses like this give kids real skills for real life,” explained Ferris. And although the course teaches a variety of things, not just how to run a business, that is a large part of the curriculum. “It helps teach kids they don’t need to necessarily find a job, they can create their own opportunities.”
Which is exactly what 18-year-old Murdy has done with an idea sparked by time spent in one of Chilliwack’s historical features with his brothers.
|Photo by Clara Templeton|
When Murdy, who’s the middle of three boys, was younger, he and his brothers used to walk from their house to the Paramount Theatre in Chilliwack’s downtown.
“I remember it being pretty cool looking on the outside,” recalled Murdy. “The inside was like an old theatre for plays maybe—it had balcony seating. It was like stepping back in time.”
The Paramount Theatre was a landmark around town for generations, however, due to its age and the lack of continuous upkeep, the theatre was torn down in early spring, 2013, despite many efforts to save the building.
With those cherished memories and the notion that the Paramount “shouldn’t be forgotten,” Murdy enrolled in Ferris’s class to take his idea to the next level, although he wasn’t quite sure exactly what his idea was.
“I was interested in business,” said the teenager with a big smile. “I had an idea and took this class to have a boost in my time so I’d have more than just ideas.”
A lover of music since he was young, Murdy says he always imagined himself with a career in the music industry. However, his musical passions lead him to rap, hip-hop, and R&B, genres which all have artists who are heavily involved in the fashion industry.
“I love clothing so much,” exclaimed Murdy, who’s got big plans for Paramnt Street Wear.
Starting with T-shirts with a graphic representation of the Paramount Theatre on the front, Murdy has already sold his first batch, but has more on the way. However, the reason for the name difference, says Murdy, was to “not get caught up in all the copy write stuff” that comes with such a popular name.
“I sold one to a guy who’s had the shirt framed,” said Murdy, who’s also been able to place shirts from his next order in Chilliwack’s All Things Being Eco, as he’s upgraded the design to include organic materials (70 per cent bamboo/30 per cent organic cotton). He’s also gone from only black shirts, to also offering the design on blue, yellow, and an earthy brown.
“(My customer base) is on the older side, late 20s and up,” said Murdy. “But it’s for the people who knew The Paramount—they really appreciate it—and it’s a cool way to commemorate (the theatre).
“And I wanted to create a product that didn’t just appeal to (my) age range, I wanted a wider range.”
Murdy’s also paying attention to what his customers want by keeping tabs on what’s going on in popular culture. “One of my favourite designs on my computer is called ‘Head to Mars.’ I came up with the idea after seeing stuff on T.V. about missions to Mars. It’s really unique and cool.”
In addition to T-shirts, Murdy has his sights set on hoodies, stickers, notebooks, and even fanny packs. “It’s the riskier side of fashion, but you got to take a risk sometimes,” said the older-than-his-years teen.
“It’s been so great to see (Dylan) raise up and meet and exceed expectations,” commented Ferris. “He’s got a lot of passion for (his idea), and it shows.”
Besides the business acumen the course has left Murdy with, he says the program also helped him with his people skills, communication skills, financial literacy, and confidence.
“Just (cold) calling companies to talk about my business was a big deal,” said Murdy with a chuckle. But his hard work has more than paid off: the young entrepreneur is going to be at the Fortins Village Classic Car Show in downtown Chilliwack this Sunday selling his shirts for $30.
And now that his Dogwood is finally under his arm, Murdy says he plans on taking a year off before making any big decisions, but during that time he’d like to work at a local clothing store.
“You see what people are buying and that’s (invaluable),” said Murdy. “I just want to take this further, and that’s where I’ll start.”