Name: Jordan Williams
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Activities: Baker Retailing Center, Black Wharton Undergraduate Association, Friars Senior Society, Youth Entrepreneurship Diversity Corporation, Young Moguls Brand
34th Street: Tell me a little bit about the Youth Entrepreneurs Diversity Corporation.
Jordan Williams: It’s a nonprofit organization that a few friends and I came up with. We usually call it YED Corp. It’s an organization that gives resources to college students who are interested in entrepreneurship and starting their own business. We have a conference that we do every summer called the YED Summit where we bring together college students from across the country and invite speakers and mentors that they can listen to. It’s just a lot of good energy, having these young individuals inspiring each other. We also do local meetings, such as in Philadelphia and Boston, that bring people together to have an environment where ideas can come together.
Street: What inspired you to start YED?
JW: I run it with two friends from Boston who are at Northeastern. One of my friends actually came up to me with the idea—he had been to a lot of conferences and wasn’t really satisfied with the experience. He felt that those who planned them didn’t know the best way to cater to people our age. They don’t know the type of speakers we want to hear, or the type of structure that would be the best fit for college students. Since we’re in this age group we wanted to start an organization that could cater to people our age so events actually resonate with them.
Street: Are you personally interested in entrepreneurship?
JW: I have been interested in entrepreneurship since I was young. I grew up in an entrepreneurial household. My dad is an entrepreneur, and I always followed his example. Ever since we were young, my friends from back home and I worked in entrepreneurial projects. We started our first business when we were ten, it was just selling old toys and games to kids at school, but it got that passion flowing. Then when we got to high school we started our clothing line, Young Moguls Brand. We just had this itch—we wanted to create things that resonate with our friends as well.
Street: Tell me more about Young Moguls Brand
JW: Young Moguls Brand is a clothing line we started when we were sophomores in high school. The purpose is to promote a positive message for our generation. All of the pieces are meant to inspire people to find their passions, start their own business, or just create what they’re passionate about in some way. It’s something we’ve been working on since then and we want it to continually develop—hopefully, it’ll grow into something that is more than just clothes. We want it to grow into more of a lifestyle brand rather than a clothing brand, so that’s the goal for the future. I definitely want things I’m working on after college to fall into that brand. I’m not extremely interested in just doing clothing, I would like to branch out, but with the same message and overall brand of Young Moguls.
Street: I’ve heard about one of your other projects, Making Money for Teens, what is that?
JW: Making Money for Teens was one of the initial projects I worked on with my friend Brandon, when we were about 13 years old. The story is that our dads used to be business partners and they would do these financial education seminars for adults every week. They told us that if we helped them set up they would give us ten, twenty dollars, so we would just sit in the back every Tuesday after school. We learned a lot just from being in the room–we picked up on a lot of financial topics that 13–year-olds probably don’t hear about on a daily basis, and so we thought they were topics that would be helpful for our friends to hear since we weren’t being taught that in school. We created Making Money for Teens to put financial topics in a simple way that our friends could understand. We would make CDs or other financial education projects and we would actually sell them at those meetings so parents could take them back to their kids.
Street: A lot of the career paths we’re exposed to at Penn are very individualistic, what inspired you to create projects that motivate others to follow their passions?
JW: Honestly, there are a lot of things that personally resonate with me that people who inspire me have done. Whenever I look at other people that have made an impact in society, I notice that their motives were not about them, even if they might get a lot of attention now. They were passionate about something and I think when people focus on doing something to provide value for other people, good comes back. I think starting with that pure moment is always better in the long run. The end goal for many people is to get attention or money, and this drives the creative process in the beginning, which I think skews the whole beauty of what being creative means in the first place. I just want to provide value for others and at the end of the day, the rest will take care of itself.
Street: Tell me about a meaningful experience your projects have given you.
Jordan: My junior year I was working on a book project for pretty much the whole year–I published it this summer. That project means a lot to me because it started junior fall when I was trying to figure out my purpose and the direction I wanted to go in life. This was a difficult process of trying to understand my own identity and where my future is taking me. It was tough but I think that the process of writing and starting the book gave me so much clarity throughout the school year. It felt like I was finding myself. I think finishing it in the summer and coming back to Penn I just feel a lot more clear–headed. I think it’s made a difference in my interactions with people, my friendships, and how much I’m enjoying Penn in general. This experience means a lot to me.
Favorite Penn building?
That red library? Fisher Fine Arts! Which is interesting because I’ve only been there like twice but it’s my favorite building. It gives me Harry Potter vibes.
Favorite class you’ve taken?
A Jazz history class I took freshman year.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Hmm...I don’t think I have something like playing guitar or anything like that, but I’m into graphic design.
Sweet or savory?
I have a sweet tooth.
If you could be a type of vacation, which one would you be?
It would definitely be somewhere that’s secluded but that has beautiful scenery, just stuff that’s not typical. Something that’s underrated but very nice.
There are two types of people at Penn:
Those who stress and those who enjoy.