Davis, a sophomore pursuing a major in mass communication, advertising option, and a minor in business administration, recently was honored at NFTE’s Global Showcase in New York City for her business, DestinTees Custom Tees & Apparel, which offers unique and custom screen printing, vinyl and sublimation services.
Davis founded DestinTees in 2012 when she was 14 years old, making T-shirts using just an X-Acto knife, an iron and fabric paint. Although the process was time consuming and the results weren’t perfect, she was hooked.
“I loved the idea of creating my own T-shirts for myself and my friends,” she said.
Recognizing her passion and dedication, her parents purchased her first small screen printing kit the following year, allowing Davis an easier and more efficient way of producing her creative work.
Over the years, Davis has continued to upgrade her equipment and her business plans. She became a member in NFTE, which offers entrepreneurial skills and tips, connects her to mentors and provides access to grant funding to support her business.
Today, Davis works her magic from her home in Ferguson, Missouri, with a screen printing station in her garage, and a vinyl and sublimation station set up in her basement. She manages her business all while being a full-time student at Southeast.
To juggle her responsibilities between life as a college student, her school work and her business, Davis dedicates two weekends a month to return home to focus on producing and delivering her products. Time management is a major factor to her continued success as both a Southeast student and an entrepreneur, she said.
“The best thing about owning my own company is that I’m my own boss,” Davis said. “I work on my own schedule and make my own rules. No day is the same as the last. There’s always something different to create and new people to meet.”
Her company accommodates a variety of requests, and she works hard to create affordable custom apparel for everyone. She also ensures excellent customer service while building a relationship by contacting and collaborating with the customer to include their vision and input into the designs.
Running her own business does have its challenges, but she takes advantage of them, she said.
“I’ve learned that things don’t always go as planned, and failure is inevitable,” said Davis. “There has, and still is a lot of trial and error when running my company. I’ve had my fair share of negative experiences, but I just take what I can from them and learn from it.”
As a student at Southeast, the campus community has provided new personal and business relationships that have helped her along the way with expanding her company and growing her profits, Davis said.
“I’ve made sorority and fraternity gear for some friends, and T-shirts for SEMO’s Sport Management Annual 5K,” she said. “I’ve also connected with the SE Creative: Advertising Club, where I’ve been able to network and learn more about advertising.”
Having commitment and the heart to do whatever it takes to find success drives Davis’ dreams forward.
“Always believe in your brand. If you don’t believe in your brand, then how do you expect anyone else to?” she said. “Whether your brand is your company, or yourself as an individual, always strive to make improvements and continue to grow.”
After graduation, Davis hopes to own a storefront for her business in Ferguson and, one day, start another business related to advertising.
Davis is the daughter of Patrick and Lisa Davis of Ferguson, Missouri.