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May 24, 2012 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-05-24

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Budding. Artist

Second-grade entrepreneur launches
his own kids' T-shirt business.


Jackie Headapohl

Managing Editor

loomfield Hills resident Alex
Zoref is a bit young to be a
designer and an entrepreneur,
but that hasn't stopped the 7-year-old
from launching his own children's
T-shirt business with help from his
mom, Marcie Zoref.
"I like to draw shapes and abstracts,"
said Alex, a second-grader at Way
Elementary who also attends Hebrew
school at Adat Shalom. "We decided to
put them on shirts."
His mother, Marcie,
a practicing psycholo-
gist in Birmingham,
said she always knew
Alex was talented at
art, but it really hit
home after he took
a year-long class at
Marcie Zoref
the Birmingham
Bloomfield Art Center.
For a class project on running a busi-
ness, Alex made copies of his artwork
and "sold" them to other students (no
real money exchanged hands.) That
sparked an idea.
"I wanted to help his dream become
a reality',' said Marcie, who hired local
graphic designer Emily Ewing to print
the shapes Alex had drawn onto 100 per-
cent cotton tagless T-shirts along with
inspiring messages.
Some of the words on the shirts are
"Live, Admire, Share;' "Be Devoted,""You
Rock,""Make Your Mark," "Aim High" and
"Support Peace'
Alex said he and his mom picked
these sayings because he wants to "help
kids feel good about themselves."
Marcie said she believes her son's
story shows other children that if you are
motivated and determined, you can go
after your dreams.
"Often, kids hold back from sharing
their ideas, thoughts or creativity, think-
ing they are just kids and will have to
wait until they are older to master their
ideas," she said.
The business, Alex and Jane
Shapemakers, named after Alex and
his sister Madison Jane, 4, is a family-
affair, run out of a room in their home.
Madison Jane helps Alex pick out
designs and is a model for the shirts.
Marcie took Alex to local retail-
ers to share his shirts, and many
agreed to stock them. The shirts are
now available at Bella Belli Maternity
in Birmingham, Golden Touch Baby
Concierge in Southfield, Lee's Specialty

Madison Jane and Alex Zoref model
the T-shirts Alex designed.

in Bloomfield Hills, Peek-a-Bootique in
West Bloomfield and Stacey Leuliette
Gracious Living in Birmingham, among
others. The shirts are also sold online at
www.ajshapemakers.com .
Sizes range from newborn through
10-12, including onesies, infant tees,
toddler tees, youth tees and tanks. Two
of the most popular designs among kids
are a bulls-eye with a star in the middle
and a shimmering silver heart.
Alex works after school and on week-
ends with his mom filling orders and
creating new designs. Customers, so far,
seem very satisfied.
"I bought the shirts for my kids
because they are locally made and my
kids loved the graphic designs," said
Regina Pipia of Birmingham. "Also, as
a mom, I don't have to coax my daugh-
ter into wearing her shirt because she
picked it out and loves it!"
Business is going well, and Alex and
Marcie are looking to hire two part-time
paid interns to help with marketing.
"We are looking for somebody really
proficient in computer programming,
social media, marketing and fashion
merchandising," said Marcie, who hopes
to find someone who can stay on longer
than the summer.
Alex, who says he wants to be an artist
when he grows up, intends to keep the
T-shirt business going. His mom stands
ready to help — not just for her son, but
also for youth in general.
"Our clothing line was developed to
help promote issues such as empathy,
diversity, harmony and sense of self
among young people," Marcie said. ❑

To apply for one of the marketing

intern positions, email your resume to


May 24 • 2012


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