A young entrepreneur with Downs Syndrome is spreading the message about his condition – with his own T-shirt design and printing business.
Twenty-year-old Max Lockwood, who lives at Meltham, has set up OUR T-SHIRT with support and a grant from the Kirklees Youth Enterprise Centre (KYEC).
And he aims to use his T-shirt designs to raise awareness of his condition.
Some of the designs have a common theme of Chromosome 21, the extra chromosome that causes Downs Syndrome. One design features a stylish music keyboard motif with a single red key and 20 black ones while another shows footprints with 21 symbols on them – one picked out in pink.
They were designed by Nyiza Nimbili, who also has his own commercial portrait business, which has been supported by KYEC.
OUR T-SHIRT also prints T-shirts to customers’ own designs, including photos of family members and friends, heroes and slogans.
Max has been awarded a grant of £5,000 from KYEC to buy equipment for his new online business, which followed the preparation of a detailed business plan and undergoing a Dragons’ Den-style selection process.
As part of the programme, he is provided with a business adviser and mentor.
The grants scheme and KYEC is part financed through the European Regional Development Fund, the Department of Education and Kirklees Council and is based at the Creative and Media Studio School at Rawthorpe’s Netherhall Learning Campus.
Max intends to work with Huddersfield Downs Syndrome Support Group and will make a donation to the group from the profits of T-shirts with the Chromosome 21 designs.
He also plans to offer printing services to local not-for-profit organisations and charities.
Said Max: “I am really excited about my new business and I have a clear message for my campaign. It is ‘Down’s Syndrome is part of me; I haven’t a disease and I am not a victim. I am as different as you are’.”
Denise Stones, business manager at KYEC, said: “Max has been awarded a grant under the KYEC scheme because his business plan met the funding criteria and it offers an innovative marketing proposition aimed at a distinct market.
“It shows that people such as Max with learning difficulties can, with the right support, be helped to realise their ambitions like anyone else.
“KYEC is about helping young people to realise their dreams, whether they are passionate about business or have a passion that they want to turn into a business.”