A candy bar empire

Justin Lawrence, Oklahoma Shirt Company

I started a graphic design and screen printing business in my garage while in medical school and have grown it to a business that produced just over 6.5 million dollars in revenue in 2017. But my story started long before that.

When I was a young man, I would come home from school and my mom would have a laundry list of chores for me. I found out pretty quickly that if I had a paying job, I wouldn’t have to do as many chores because of my responsibilities.

So I was pretty young when I started a string of small businesses. First I was a magician. I had ten clients, nine of which were my mom’s friends. They hired me for their kids’ parties, probably just doing a favor for my mom.

Next I borrowed my stepdad’s mower and had him drive me around so I could make $20 mowing yards. He was generous enough to let me keep the entire $20 each time.

But in high school I started a business that gave me a feeling of accomplishment I remember to this day.

I saw that groups like band and choir were making money selling candy bars for fundraisers. They would each get a bag of fifty candy bars to sell for $1 each. They would sell them, turn in the $50, get $25 of it back for the fundraiser, and the other $25 would go to pay for the candy bars.

Well, I thought that was great. It was my first introduction to business basics. Buy something at a cheap price, sell it for more and reap the benefits. So I borrowed my stepdad’s Sam’s Club card and bought better candy than what everyone else was selling.

I started a candy bar empire at my high school!

Boy, what a feeling of accomplishment. I ended up having people sell candy bars for me. I would meet up with them in between classes, give them the candy bars and take the money.

It was super cool! I felt like I was on cloud nine. I had tons of disposable income for a high schooler.

One major thing I accomplished during that time was buying my own computer. I’d asked my mom for one, but she wouldn’t buy it for me. So I bought it myself, one $1 candy bar at a time. It was a $2,200 Dell dream machine, and I still remember when it came to the house.

Eventually, they changed the rules at the high school because of me. Turns out people lining up at the beginning of classes to buy candy bars and get a lot of sugar in their system wasn’t a great idea. So fundraisers had to go through an approval process instead.

But I still remember the feeling of accomplishment that gave me. To this day, that computer was the most satisfying purchase I’ve ever made in my life. It was a great experience and I hope my own son does something similar.

Leave a Comment