OAKLAND -- Ryan Frigo, a 15-year-old sophomore at Oakland School for the Arts, is aiming to change negative perceptions -- and instead celebrate the beauty -- of the city he's lived in his whole life.
Frigo runs his own Oakland-booster clothing company, aptly named "Stoaked," selling T-shirts, hoodies, snapbacks and beanies. He creates original designs using Adobe software -- the company recently featured Frigo in a video about young entrepreneurs who use their products.
"The most important thing when creating a design is to bring out the 'oak' in Stoaked so there's a clear reference to Oakland," said Frigo, who was wearing a Stoaked T-shirt with a diamond motif in the letters. "The diamond design not only makes 'oak' stand out, it reflects how Oakland is a gem of the Bay Area."
The idea for Stoaked came from a class called BUILD that Frigo took last year at Oakland Technical High School. He and a team of four other students entered the idea in a districtwide Business Plan Competition sponsored by BUILD at UC Berkeley's Haas School of Business. They won first place among about 30 teams and a $1,000 prize.
"We presented our idea in front of a panel of judges," said Frigo, who bought a heat press to make the T-shirts in the laundry room of his home. "We showed the panel the T-shirts, and I also created a PowerPoint presentation that showed different aspects of the business, such as costs and projected numbers."
Frigo said the shirts and PowerPoint put his team ahead of the competition.
"We were the only team that had a prototype in hand," Frigo said.
After the competition, Frigo decided to take the company further on his own. He created a website (www.stoakedoakland.com) and uses all the avenues of social media to get the word out about his products.
"I get between 15 and 30 sales per month, with about 50 percent of orders coming through the website," Frigo said. "I'm also designing a Stoaked T-shirt for Resurrect vintage clothing on Piedmont Avenue -- they want something more geometric and nature-based."
Frigo has resided in the Redwood Heights neighborhood for all of his life and can't imagine living anywhere but Oakland.
"Oakland isn't nearly as dangerous as the media portrays it, but violence gets more attention," Frigo said. "There's so much beauty here -- Lake Merritt, the Oakland hills, the views of the Bay."
He says he especially likes two facts that he learned about Oakland.
"It's the most diverse city in the U.S., and it has the highest concentration of artists," said Frigo, who also plays violin in the Oakland Youth Orchestra. "There's a huge art scene that comes out at Art Murmur, which is held the first Friday of the month on Telegraph Avenue -- it's an awesome event."
Frigo had a booth for his Stoaked apparel at Art Murmur last December and will be there again Feb. 7. The young entrepreneur's most recent creation is a new logo for Stoaked that he drew in Adobe Illustrator -- an original-design oak tree surrounded by a triangle.
"The triangle is the delta symbol for change, which I think is pertinent to Oakland," Frigo said. "It reflects how Stoaked is trying to change negative perceptions of Oakland."
Frigo, who hopes to attend UC Berkeley to study graphic design or music production, also plans to expand his company in other directions.
"I'm collaborating with visual artists and also want to collaborate with local musicians to shoot music videos in Oakland," he said. "The moment I thought of that word -- 'stoaked' -- I got super-motivated, and a lot of ideas just came together."
What: Stoaked, an apparel company that promotes Oakland
Information: www.stoakedoakland.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter or Instagram at Stoakedeastbay.