Meet the Nechells teens looking to turn their Birmingham merchandise into global brand

Four teenagers from Birmingham have created their very own business selling a range of tourist merchandise based on their home city - and they have big plans for the future

The teenagers behind Brum Ting Decrae, Charisma, Alex and Ethan - picture by Stuart James of Emotive Eye photography

Four Birmingham teenagers have set their sights on turning their new tourist merchandise business into an international brand.

Charisma Meehan, Decrae Simms, Alex Yang and Ethan Widgery-Powell, who all met at the Free at Last youth club in the Nechalls area, have launched their own brand selling a range of merchandise promoting Birmingham for visitors to their home city.

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The youngsters created the brand, called Brum Ting, with some assistance from business mentors, and they have so far sold around £800 worth of products through social media and word of mouth alone.

The products include clothing and accessories, and the ambitious entrepreneurs are now planning to officially launch the business in the run up to Christmas.

One of the founders, Ethan, who is just 15, said he believed Brum Ting could become a global franchise.

“I believe that with the correct input and effort that Brum Ting can become a worldwide brand name and more people will know our story and become inspired to thrive in their work, everyday lives and their passion for whatever it is they enjoy,” he said.

Some of the Brum Ting merchandise

Where did the idea for Brum Ting come from?

John Street, founder and director of the Free at Last youth club, said the idea for the business was born when he launched a project asking young people at the youth club to make jewellery which they then sold on a market stall in Sutton Coldfield.

While working on the project, Charisma, 17, Decrae,17, Alex, 16, and Ethan, who are all studying at school or college, noticed there was a gap in the market for Birmingham-related tourism products.

John said: “The initial idea was that they would make a variety of products in our workshop, but as they were all still at school and lockdown had begun, we decided to teach them how to run a business and set up a supply chain.

“I am incredibly proud of how hard they have all worked on this.

“Every step of the journey has been a challenge,” he added. “From learning to Zoom and attend meetings through lockdown, to having enough money to buy products to sell, to finding the right suppliers who will help them on their journey.

“The biggest challenge now is finding the time to manage school, life, mental wellbeing and business.

“They would like to franchise the brand across the world so that young people in every city on earth can have their own Ting business.”

Brum Ting founders, Ethan, Alex, Decrae and Charisma

Young Decrae, said: “As long as we stay determined and put the work in, I’m more than sure Brum Ting will be successful.”

Calum Sawford, programme director at the Martin James Network, a Birmingham-based organisation which aims to help families and vulnerable people, and works with the youth club, praised the work and dedication of the four teenagers.

He said: “We are delighted to see the growth of Brum Ting from a glimmer of an idea into a fantastic business through the engagement and enablement of young people under the stewardship of Free at Last.”

John said that he would like to thank everyone who had helped the group out so far, including the staff at Martin James Network, which provided an initial grant, and suppliers Sandeep Nandra at Dr Print, Helen Butler at Thread A Pixel and Steve Quance at Steven Charles Quance Jewellery.

To find out more about Brum Ting, or buy the merchandise, visit the website here

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