Boy, 8, starts bow tie business to honor father killed in Little Rock shooting
It's not easy being a boss — especially for an 8-year-old who's already busy with basketball practice and taekwondo lessons.
But it's a sacrifice Kylan Robinson said he was willing to make when he launched Swag Ky Bow Ties & More in memory of his father, Loren Robinson, who was fatally shot last year.
The online store, which sells bow ties, socks, shoes and other apparel, went live Sunday as a gift from Kylan to his dad on their first Father's Day apart.
"My Father’s Day gift is to keep my pop's name alive! Justice will be served," the Little Rock resident wrote on Facebook.
Kylan's father died last July in a shooting on Stardust Trail in southwest Little Rock. A witness told police the shooter walked up to the car Robinson was sitting in and fired several times. Authorities found the 30-year-old on the ground with multiple gunshot wounds. His killing remains unsolved.
When Kylan first mentioned starting his own business about a month ago, his mother, Tennika Stokes, felt overwhelmed.
"It really shocked me how he came up with this idea so quickly," she said. "I know what he’s going through with grief. As an adult, I’m experiencing it too, but it’s reassuring to see him handle it all and not be depressed or angry."
Stokes said her son is a natural businessman. He chooses his own inventory and manages his own social media accounts, albeit with lots of oversight from his mother.
Although the company remains small, it has some big friends, including Arkansas native and Chicago Bulls forward Bobby Portis. In a Facebook post shared Thursday, the young CEO can be seen "networking" with Portis over a game of hoops.
"Honored to be able to build a network circle of people that I look up to," Kylan wrote. "Thank you Bobby Portis for the things money can’t buy ... time!"
Since its launch, the company has begun selling $10 bow ties that Kylan likes to call "swag sauce."
His mother said that sense of style is something he inherited from his sharp-dressed father. And as Kylan begins to notice all the items his dad wore, it fuels his desire to expand his business, Stokes said. The next addition will be a line of luxury belts.
"I'm excited to see where it goes," Stokes said. "I told him, 'Whatever you want to do, I’ll stand behind you 1,000 percent. We'll do whatever we need to do to keep you on the right path. We’re going to go for it.'"
Story by Jaime Dunaway
Originally published June 19, 2018 at 11:49a.m., updated June 20, 2018 at 04:30a.m.