ABBEVILLE – 17-year-old Asia’Lynn Harris has to adapt to a lot of things in one day. With cheering training and her summer job at a local tutoring center, she would be pretty busy, but it’s only a scratch of the surface.
The rising senior from Abbeville High is also taking online classes at Rowan University’s Think Like An Entrepreneur virtual summer academy and putting what she’s learning into practice in real time with her two clothing brands.
“It’s a lot to deal with,” she admits. “I keep going. It gets hectic sometimes. When I’m not busy, I’m bored.”
She launched Polished My World My Way in 2012 with the goal of spreading positivity among her peers and students all over the world.
Her message is, “You can be polite the way you are,” she said. “Don’t try to change.”
Harris and her mother, Shaquana Jackson, printed this message on t-shirts, hoodies and more. After a short hiatus from her business, Harris was set to relaunch her in 2020 with a new addition, A’COLE, a combination of her first initial and middle name (Nicole).
His message remains the same: overcome negativity with positivity. Follow your dreams and try new things, like building a brand or two.
“A’COLE represents me because I am a positive person,” she said. “Not many people want to try new things or want to help people; they have a negative mind. But anything is possible. Don’t stop your dreams because of a bad thing.”
“You must continue”
The stimulus package had included travel and in-person product sales, but COVID-19 put that on hold. So Harris went online, creating a website with the Shopify e-commerce platform to support its Facebook and Instagram accounts.
Customers can now order t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants or bags with different styles of lettering that Harris worked on with a designer. She coordinated the colors according to the season and the tastes of her audience. The bestseller lately has been gold, she said.
She and her mom print the products themselves with a heat press at home. Sometimes they outsource for extra help, like when they needed more inventory in a short time for a recent New Orleans fashion show.
The event was a great opportunity to network with others at similar businesses in several states. She got tips and ideas on business and style.
“People were very supportive,” Harris said.
She has planned other fashion shows, including Acadiana Fashion Week later this month. This one makes sense because it’s close to home and looks a bit like a second chance.
The teenager tried to be a model in the 2019 runway show, but was not selected, so being there as a designer this year is very special. It was also an important reminder to persist.
“It means a lot to me to be a part of it,” she said. “You have to keep going. Good opportunities present themselves. I’ve learned to seize them. Don’t get angry when something denies you. There is always something else.”
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“You can be powerful by helping others”
They have the inventory, so they prepare the models and the publicity before the show, while also getting ready for another show. She will participate in the National American Miss Pageant in Baton Rouge on July 31.
His love for fashion and pageantry played a role in building a clothing business, but fashion was also a strategic business choice.
“I love the clothes,” she said. “I consider myself an overdressed. But I also chose clothes because everyone wears clothes, and that was a way to get my point across.”
She’s learned a lot about the business in recent years, which is that it’s not as easy as you might think, she said. But she kept going because she wants to keep inspiring others with her positivity.
“You can be powerful by helping others,” she said. “I wanted to do a business that does that.”
Harris credits his “entrepreneurial side” to his mother, a single mom who has her own line of t-shirts and writes inspirational and fictional books. The two also enjoy working together to make Harris’ dream come true.
“I am so passionate about entrepreneurship,” Jackson said. “You can work for yourself, do your own thing, earn money and make your dream come true.”
Contact Leigh Guidry, children’s affairs reporter, at Lguidry@theadvertiser.com or on Twitter @LeighGGuidry.