Today we’d like to introduce you to Julian Morris.
Hi Julian, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I started my business at age 13. It was during the height of the pandemic, and I was in virtual school. At this time, a lot of decisions were being made for kids without kids having any input and it was really frustrating, especially for student-athletes. I felt my peers needed a platform to voice their opinions about the pandemic and everything else going on at that time, and Swag was born. Swag stands for Students with a Gift, and it is a magazine for teens written by teens. We write about news, sports, entertainment, politics, finances, technology, education, and health from the perspective of a teenager. I wrote all of the articles myself for a couple of months and then my peers noticed what I was doing and wanted to write for the magazine as well. I now have a team of 6 writers and I have guest writers sometimes too. Every month since January 20, 2021, I have been able to put out a new edition of Swag. I’m a digital magazine, but for my 1 year anniversary, I did a print edition of Swag, and most recently, I did a special edition of Swag highlighting all the small businesses at SVRC Marketplace.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It started off smooth and exciting. One of my mentors, Phil Eich, published a story about me that got a lot of attention and put me in front of Governor Gretchen Whitmer. But my age was a problem in some circles when trying to get information for a story. I did a lot of writing during high school basketball season and one of the ladies that kept the stats after the game didn’t want to give me the stats, stating I would post pictures of the stat book on social media. I felt like my professionalism was attacked because of my age, but I was persistent and talked to some higher-ups in Saginaw Public Schools, and they handled the situation for me and allowed the access to information.
I’ve been trying to establish myself with the Saginaw Young Professionals Network, and that has been a little challenging because of my age. Any event I go to, I’m the only kid there. And a lot of their events after 5 and not kid-appropriate, but Mr. Hensley is willing to work with me to figure something out so I can get more kids involved. And that’s my whole purpose with my magazine, to give kids an opportunity to be heard and seen.
We’ve been impressed with Swag Magazine, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Swag Magazine (Students with A Gift) is a magazine for teens written by teens. It has all the information you would see in any other magazine, except it’s from the perspective of a teenager. I started out as a digital magazine, but I’ve branched out into merchandise as well. I have t-shirts, hoodies, and crewnecks that have become popular in my city. Last year, I launched a literacy campaign, Reading is the New Swag. I heard someone say kids don’t like to read anymore, and I took that personal. I made a PSA about it and started a book club to encourage my peers to read more books. No one else in my city is doing what I’m doing. There are other teen entrepreneurs, and I’m proud of all of them, but I’m in my own lane. And my magazine gives me the opportunity to write about other kids in my community doing great things. I have put on a couple of events in my city, a teen entrepreneur forum; a charity fashion shows that raised money for kids with an incarcerated parents, and a pop-up event. My brand is associated with excellence and that’s what I’m most proud of. People know they will receive quality content from Swag and events that are excellent from beginning to end. I want your readers to know that Swag is The Voice of the Future.
Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
I love the support from my city. Swag has been able to reach across generations, and I love that. Kids, teenagers, adults, and elders all support Swag and appreciate the work me and my team are doing. There are a lot of bad things happening in Saginaw, and sometimes that overshadows the good stuff, and that’s what I like least about it.
- T-shirts $25
- Hoodies $40
- Crewnecks $35
- Website: www.theswagmagazine.com
- Instagram: theswagmagazine
- Facebook: theswagmagazine
- Twitter: theeswagmag