Teen entrepreneurs launch t-shirt line to break the cycle of poverty, violence

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CHICAGO — While Candice Cunningham is a self-made e-commerce powerhouse, she measures her success in how much she invests in the young people of the area where she grew up.

For eight months, a group of teens from the neighborhood have been hovering over cotton t-shirts they worked on and designed themselves. Every one tells a story, and will be sold as part of the Rise Collection.

"It represents each student, the fact that they are unique they have unique struggles," Cunningham said.

It wasn't until after she made it as a business woman that Cunningham decided to use everything she learned to help others rise. Using t-shirts, she taught them how to design, manufacture and use their own faces to sell the products online.

"It opens your eyes to how to be an entrepreneur, and you have to do a lot of work, but it's worth it," Amir Smith said.

Growing up in the same neighborhood, Cunningham says she saw two totally different worlds. By working with kids in the community, she said she hopes to show them it's possible to realize their own potential.

"Showing them that they should have hope, somebody believes in you and it's not just a dream," Cunningham said. "You can actually reach for it and attain it."

The student's designs are now available for sale as part of a clothing line they decided to call the Rise Collection.

"My plan is to sell lots of shirts and save up for college," Kamyla Stephens said.

The Rise Collection' will officially debut with a special pop-up shop next to the Icon Theater on Roosevelt (details below).

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how to help," Cunningham said. "This is all about working together as a team and selling merchandise to put money back in the community."

Rise Collection Apparel Pop-Up

1023 S. Delano court.

5-7pm Thursday, 12-6 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Online store

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