Nicholas Brown: Geography Whiz With a Biz

Fueled by his passion for world geography, junior Nicholas Brown decided to start a business as an underclassman.

He sold shirts online with geography puns, such as his “gobble gobble” shirt with a map of Turkey on it. Having fun designing and ordering funny geography tees allowed his business to spring to life.

“I wanted to make just a funny t-shirt for when school started, and I made one in CustomInk as a little joke. And then I showed it to my mom, and she got it for me. Then my friends saw it, and they wanted some. So I got some for my friends,” Brown said.

Nicholas Brown presents one of the original t-shirt designs. His designs have expanded dramatically since his first ones, with shirts now in a variety of colors and geography puns.

“And then from there I think I was joking around with some people, and [they said], ‘Oh yeah, I’d buy one, I’d buy one.’ I just picked up a pad and paper and I said, ‘Okay, I’ll sell you one for 12 dollars,’ and I just went around school. By the end of the week, I had 30 [orders], and that was my first [batch of orders].”

Logistics were an obstacle Brown faced in the beginning. He remembers having to work out basic calculations and perfect designs for his products. He learned his business skills not from instruction, but rather from the creation of his shop.

“It was all really informal at first. I just started collecting money and seeing how many t-shirts I could buy. And then I had to crunch some numbers to figure out how many t-shirts I could order and how many t-shirts I would need to sell at what price to make a profit.”

“And that’s how I learned about basic stuff like that. The design process was always my favorite part. It was just making funny puns and making country maps,” Brown said.

Another big obstacle Brown faced was maintaining a steady stream of customers. He also had to deal with expanding beyond his original pun t-shirt business model.

“It does get a little slow. I could definitely be putting a lot more time into expanding beyond just designing shirts, because I’ve designed a lot of shirts. But I haven’t done a lot else to grow the business.”

His choice of theme was a simple one but had an interesting background to it. He picked geography because it was a significant part of his life. His friends in middle school had an influence on him.

However, another more unusual influence on his passion for geography came from an item in his home:

“I had this shower curtain in my bathroom that had the map of the world on it, and I just really kinda fell in love with that. From there I grew my passion for stuff like that,” Brown said. “I just remember staring at that, and wondering, ‘What is that country? How did it come about?’ I think it just really interestingly displays information [for] learning about the world.”

His enthusiasm for the subject he loves was a big driver for his business.

“I guess that’s just what I know. I love geography. And that’s what I decided to sell because I thought it was funny. And I didn’t think anyone else was doing it, so I did it.”

Brown believes that his business is a key part of his high school life. However, he will not expand it or become more involved in it for the future. He prefers it to remain something on the side, rather than something that absorbs his life.

“I can’t imagine it being a main part of my life, but it’s always something I wanna have there. I’ve always really liked it. I have the website now, which is really great. And I have the Instagram, so I’m comfortable where I am right now.”