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BY JORDYN AXELROD
THE SOHO YOUTH CLUB MISSION & MINDSET
Soho Youth Club’s (SYC) trendy sweatpants, hoodies, and beanies do more than just keep you comfortable—they give back to communities in invaluable ways. Founded by U of M sophomore Brett Gray (Ross School of Business 2023), the streetwear brand’s mission is to provide experience, opportunity, and education to youth from underserved areas. Through limited and unique clothing collections, Soho Youth Club partners with philanthropic initiatives to achieve its goal.
Gray has always embodied an entrepreneurial mindset. While others were doing homework after school, he was buying and selling sneakers, working for SLAM Magazine, and promoting art at Stadium Goods. Inspired by his father and grandfather’s charitable work, the young entrepreneur merged his passion for business with his family’s history of giving back, doing good, and paying it forward.
“I’ve always had a feel for what’s cool and what’s not,” says Gray from his apartment, sporting a high quality black hoodie with Soho Youth Club’s bubbly logo. He wanted to design eye-catching clothing that he and his customers were both passionate about—something more than just fashion or profit. Gray states, “It is a matter of doing good. Anyone that wants to support this cause understands that their dollar gets recycled back to philanthropy.” As a result, a specific target audience is reached: one that cares about the cause behind clothes.
During quarantine, thousands found solace and entertainment in tie-dyeing Hanes tee shirts in bright colors. Soho Youth Club took this trend to the next level. By partnering with the Boys & Girls Club of Oyster Bay-East Norwich, they arranged a virtual tie-dye workshop that enabled kids to create their own original items, encouraging children who have not had the resources to experiment to now experience individuality and creative expression. In conjunction with the event, a line of hand-dyed hoodies were released. SYC was born.
After the pilot tie-dye collaboration sold out, Soho Youth Club partnered with ALINE Wealth and Global Educational Excellence to host a financial literacy mini course. Due to the lack of financial literacy in numerous high schools, as well as economic setbacks put on students by the coronavirus, Soho Youth Club organized remote learning sessions to teach kids about critical business skills. For two weeks, students received free access to professionally taught lessons about opening bank accounts, building credit, investing, and taxes. Soon after the course, the sleek and silver Financial Literacy Collection was launched.
Soho Youth Club continued its partnerships and its community impact. In November, the company teamed up with Long Island’s leading food bank, Island Harvest, to organize a Thanksgiving food distribution and fundraised in support of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month (a purple and white sweatshirt—colors representing pancreatic cancer—was released accordingly). And in December, SYC brought the philanthropic spirit close to campus by planning a major toy distribution in Ann Arbor with the support of the Michigan basketball team.
As a full-time self-employed CEO and college student, Gray is incredibly driven and devoted—and he is living out his dream. “I’ve always been an entrepreneur and wanted to do my own thing,” Gray states. This goal has definitely been reached, as he covers new ground with new sweatshirts each month. With it being Black History Month, Gray has yet another groundbreaking collection on its way, fully in support of young black entrepreneurs. Soho Youth Club is only on the rise, and Brett Gray is a name you do not want to forget.