When you pass by the red truck with the fork-and-knife logo called The Brkfst Clb, you’d probably think, “Oh, another food truck.” Yet when you look closely, you realize the boxes that look like Chinese-takeout are actually filled with T-shirts, and that what they sell are not hot dogs or doughnuts but inspiration.
Taymullah Abdur-Rahman founded the Brkfst Clb while he was working as a counselor in a prison system. Abdur-Rahman hires troubled kids to work at his clothing truck and tells them if in four weeks he notices any progress in their behavior, then they will become entrepreneurs/ sales affiliates for his truck. If their behavior improves significantly, they get to design and sell their own t-shirts and get 35% of what they sell.
“Yeah, so some people enroll kids in dance classes or baseball classes in order to reform them. But this will only work until they want money for a date or to hang out with their friends,” says Abdur-Rahman. “And these activities don’t help them make money so that’s when they start doing illegal things.”
Abdur-Rahman had been working at a prison for seven years when he noticed that every year the population grew noticeably younger. He also had a small t-shirt business on the side, so he decided to combine his two ventures to create something that would benefit the kids he worked with and also expand his t-shirt business. So he turned his business into an LLC and started recruiting kids.
This is how he came up with the concept of a truck that sold t-shirts and would serve as a business for these teens, who wouldn’t normally do productive things during their free time.
“I didn’t want smart and able children to spend 60 years in jail,” says Abdur-Rahman. “Most of the kids in the prison system were very articulate, they just made some really bad choices that made them end up in jail.”
He decided that the best method was to address this issue before it was too late and the kids were already in jail. That’s when he decided to start counseling at an intervention center for kids caught with weapons at public schools instead of working at a prison. This way he could use the truck as a prevention system rather than a rehabilitation program.
“I see this program as a more approachable form of counseling; these kids come from really rough realities and sitting around, being lectured about the consequences of their actions isn’t going to change the fact that jail is one of the places where they feel the safest,” says Abdur-Rahman.
The way this program works is that Abdur-Rahman teaches the kids the same life skills he used to teach in prison, with the difference that they are working for something tangible. This man’s main goal is to get their minds wrapped around the future, not to think, “I’m just going to sell some t-shirts.” He teaches them to see this as a business opportunity, and to look at the bigger picture and set goals for themselves. Depending on their enthusiasm during this four-week period, Abdur-Rahman can see if these kids are committed or not before he sends them out to sell shirts.
“It’s a company where we teach kids how to be salesmen; they can sell door to door, at sports events at church, on the Internet, wherever they need and this is a good way for them to earn some money and make a living,” says Abdur-Rahman
The name of the truck is an acronym that stands for “Bringing Resources and Knowledge For Solutions Today.” What Abdur-Rahman intends people to understand by this is that behind what seems like a cute idea are real life stories and real issues. His intention isn’t to make anyone a millionaire; he just wants to teach these kids real life skills.
“That’s where the acronym comes from,” says Abdur-Rahman, “since this program prevents smart children from ending up badly.”
This entrepreneur chose to locate his store inside of a truck because he needed a way to move around the city. It is also easier for the kids to come to a truck because they don’t feel intimidated about the fact that they have to go to an actual address.
So far, the outcome has been considerably successful. Some of these kids would have probably continued to get involved in criminal activities and might have ended up in jail.
“But thanks to this program you have some of them even filling out applications for college, and including their experiences with The Brkfst Clb in their resumes,” he says.
Abdur-Rahman recruits about a dozen kids a month, but he doesn’t like to have more than 10 kids on the truck at a time. Most of them work or him for about a three month period, yet he gives them the option of working for him until they move on to something else.
Once the kids are enrolled in the program he gives them a credit card reader for their smartphones and enough inventory for them to sell. This way, there is no physical money involved and since the credit card readers are linked to his phone, he can monitor who’s selling and who’s not.
“I track all of the sales and who made them, and every two weeks I cut them a check for what they have sold,” says Abdur-Rahman.
Event though he has achieved so much in such a short period of time, Abdur-Rahman thinks he can’t call this business a success yet because the program has only been around for about a year. “I would need about five years in order to tell you if my vision materialized,” says Abdur-Rahman. “For the time being I’m just focusing on expanding this program throughout the rest of Massachusetts and even other states in the Northeast.”