Alex Hart-Upendo is no stranger to fashion or business.
At 10 years old, the Racine resident has got a keen sense for both.
Since the age of 5, the now fourth-grader has been building the foundation of his own budding fashion and special events business.
Aptly titled Build a Bow LLC, the company started out as custom bow-tie retailer, but has grown to include special events, where Alex provides attendees with the materials and instruction they need to make their very own bow ties & hair bows.
In addition to offering event goers with choices of colorful and zany fabrics for designing hair bows or bow ties, he also lets them draw on their own piece of blank canvas, so they make a bow from a print uniquely their own.
The company started when Alex at the age of 5 tested as gifted, his IQ was higher than most children in his age group. His gift was the staple of being isolated & bullied. He wanted to take the term nerd & turn it into something cool. Build-a-Bow LLC was created from being bullied to bowties. That's what truly make Build-a-Bow unique, the founder & CEO is 10 years old.
Alex, lost his grandfather, famed University of Wisconsin-Madison football player Eddie “The Pony” Hart to cancer, he wants to become a biochemist so that he can find a cure for the disease. The loss of his grandfather is what inspired him to expand Build-a-Bow into a non profit community project.
Forty percent of proceeds go back into the community. Build-a-Bow hosts a community workshop once a month, free of charge to all patrons. At the workshop patrons are taught how to design a bowtie. Each workshops bowtie designs, are then sent off to awareness groups. For example September's awareness is Childhood cancer, the bowties designed at that month's workshop went to children battling cancer.
His community project received a grant from the Racine Arts council & also was recognized by the state of Wisconsin & Governor Scott Walker. Alex received a Proclamation, & his very own day for the philanthropy Build-a-Bow LLC has done in Racine WI. Alex is also the 2016 nominee award winner of the Apollo business award, presented by RMAC of Racine. The 2017 humanitarian award winner for Racine & has also received attention from NBC, & has been featured as a guest on the Harry connick jr show.
Alex hopes to expand his company outside of Racine & continue to touch the lives of many one bowtie a time. He has also written a book, anticipated publishing date January 2017. Titled “Bullies bowties and brilliant Alex.” The book was written to encourage the inner entrepreneur in children, while bringing awareness to bullying. He plans to use forty percent of all his book proceeds to donate his books for underprivileged children & schools. The remainder 60% will go to book printing fees & his college fund. Alex is having a open book launch party January 21st 2017. His biggest challenges is coincidentally the same thing that makes him unique, his age. Alex is the CEO & president of Build-a-Bow LLC so being available for his company needs & balancing school is tough. He has great dreams of being a Bio-Chemist so academic success is very important as well.
He hopes to one day have a community center & give people a place to create art free of charge. Philanthropy through art is one of the CEO’s passions.