BALTIMORE — There's a new name in the water bottle business -- and the owners aren't old enough to drive a car.
Korner Boyz Enterprises celebrated the release of their first bottles Friday night at Shake and Bake Family Fun Center.
The five teens were and still are “Squeegee boys’, and their new business is a way to get out.
Every bottle says “Freedom to Hustle” on the label.
WMAR-2 News was asked not to show their faces or to use their last names.
“I’m glad I didn’t grow up with the good things, I wouldn’t have been able to read between the lines,” Keyon said. “I’m glad I grew up through the struggle. I love the struggle I love the streets. There’s a time for games and there’s a time and there’s a time to pay bills. There’s a time to change and that’s what I’m trying to do.”
Keyon got hit by a car his first day as a “Squeegee Boy” and he watched his brother who was his best friend get indicted.
“When you think of 'Squeegee Boy' you think of an ignorant kid. Now that they see that a 'Squeegee Boy' is doing something positive then that can only help me get a better look at the youth. When I’m gone I could leave a legacy.”
The release party is a culmination of months of work and connections built.
None of this would be possible if MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art) staffer Kai Cosby-Singleton didn’t see past the Windex bottles and squeegees into the potential of these young entrepreneurs.
“Over the last 6 months we’ve developed the aesthetics for their organization,” Cosby Singleton said. “Their code of conduct was already there so we just had to type it up and formalize it.”
Crosby-Singleton met them at the intersection of Mount Royal Terrace and West North Avenue, he kept coming back and established trust and a relationship with them.
Eventually he invited them to the Baltimore Thinkathon, an event that connects potential business owners with entrepreneurs.
“They said if we were going to stay on the streets, we would go from squeegeeing to selling water and we said okay what if jumped straight into whole sale, and they said that sounds good,” Crosby-Singleton said.
It’s there that Korner Boyz with the teens at the head of the co-op, Crosby-Singleton sees as just the start of a larger enterprise.
“Water is one avenue and we’re going to dominate this one and we will move on to the next.”
Leroy said he hopes the city sees what they are doing and that it inspires people to give other 'Squeegee Boys' chances to thrive.
“I just want to change my community, I would rather see something better than what it is now,” Leroy said.
Mentors volunteered their time to help the Korner Boyz grow and learn.
“Back than my mind was different but now it’s way way different working with MICA now,” Dauntae said.
All of them are looking forward to a day where Korney Boyz Water is on every shelf.
“It’s going to make me feel like I chose the right route,” Leroy said.
“It would put a smile on my face. It would be there for a long time,” Dauntae said.
If you want to order some water, they can ship it right to your store or house.
In the immediate future, Korner Boyz is looking to expand into merchandise with hats, shirts, and drinkware.