The winner of this year’s Up & Coming Entrepreneur Contest, is Jackson Riegler, a 17-year old senior, football player, and honors student at Muskegon Catholic Central High School. Riegler started Oshki, an apparel company, in July of this year. He funded it entirely with his own money from a landscaping job, and had over $9,000 in sales in just the first month.
“It is an honor to be chosen,” said Riegler. “Any time you get recognition for the hard work you put in, it’s icing on the cake. Starting Oshki has been a life-changing experience and the people I have come into contact with have been overwhelmingly supportive.”
Reigler didn’t necessarily grow up dreaming of business ownership, instead entrepreneurship seems to have found him. News of proposed funding cuts for the Great Lakes inspired him to take action.
“People who have never visited the Great Lakes do not understand how beautiful and special the lakes really are,” said Riegler.
He named his company, “Oshki,” taken to mean “fresh” in the Native American Ojibwe language, and a portion of the proceeds from every sale goes to the Alliance for the Great Lakes. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit works tirelessly to preserve the Great Lakes for future generations.
Riegler hopes his company can raise awareness of the plight of the lakes, and especially to aid in the fight to keep Asian Carp out of them. He also plans to use profits to pay for his own college education.
Oshki launched with four unisex designs. The next step with the product-line is to expand into distinct styles for men and women. From a marketing perspective, Riegler wants to expand sales well beyond his hometown. According to the young entrepreneur, about 50% of his sales to date have come from Muskegon, where his mission has gotten the most recognition. Now he is focused on extending his reach throughout the state.
“I know there are a lot of Michiganders and other people who realize the beauty in the Great Lakes,” said Riegler, “Getting my message out is most important.”
He’ll have an excellent opportunity to do that on Oct 28-29 during the Buy Michigan Now Fall Fest at the Jackson County Fairgrounds. Riegler’s Grand Prize includes a free booth at this annual showcase of Michigan-made products. The event runs from 11AM-5PM on Saturday and 10AM-4PM on Sunday.
Riegler’s products may also be purchased online at www.Oshki.us.