Starting a business in this economy is tough. But for a 9-year-old who hasn't so much as seen a mortgage statement, the market is a little more forgiving.
Enter Moziah Bridges, a fourth-grader at Rozelle Elementary who falls into the newly minted category of "kidpreneurs." Last June, Bridges kick-started his career as a fashion designer with Mo's Bows, a source for dapper bow ties aimed at playground pals and adults alike.
"I like to dress up," says Bridges, whose sophisticated, black-rimmed glasses and panache call to mind the old-school soul revivalist Raphael Saadiq. "So I thought, Hey, why not make my own bow ties?"
Bridges totes his bows in an old suitcase with racks fashioned out of clothes hangers. Each style of bow has its own name: "Think Pink," "Buster Brown," "Beale Street," "Paper Boy," "Night Magic."
He recently made a special-edition pink silk tie for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and he delivered another of his ties to Fox 13's bow tie-wearing weatherman Joey Sulipeck, who wore the gift on air. Next, he plans on sending a few of his ties to his pop idols, Justin Bieber and Chris Brown.
You can find a few of Bridges' designs in his virtual shop on Etsy.com, but his mother admits that the process of uploading images and keeping the online shop up-to-date is time-consuming. You're more likely to see a full array of Mo's Bows at artisan fairs and sales around town, like this year's Mid-South Unity Youth Fest at Mud Island.
The business is guided by the many women in Bridges' life: After visiting his grandmother's house to pick out fabrics and patterns, he sits down with his mother and grandmother (who taught him to sew) and starts stitching.
"He can sew a bow tie from start to finish," says Bridges' mother, Tramica Morris. "But there are some things he really doesn't like to do, like the ironing. We'll do some of that for him."
And there are other moments where his age shines through. When it comes to manning the booth at artisan fairs, for instance, he sometimes gets distracted.
"He sells three or four bow ties, but he's still a kid and he wants to get his face painted or eat cotton candy," Morris says.
All the same, it's clear that this is Bridges' undertaking, and when his mother gets too involved, he is quick to assert his creative authority.
"When I get too hands-on, he calls me 'momager,'" says Morris with a smile.
This is only the beginning for Bridges, who says he hopes to move on to designing suspenders and his own line of cologne. He's also active in community theater and is in the process of starting a rock band with a few friends. What motivates him to take on so many projects?
"I don't know," he says. "I guess it's in my blood."