Sixteen-year-old buddies Andrew Boukather and Cole Friedman are ending their summer on a high note, watching the T-shirts they designed fly off the shelves at Jack's Surfboards in Corona del Mar.
Boukather and Friedman, both 16-year-old juniors at Corona del Mar High School, are the creative brains behind the surf/skate line Spruce Clothing, which is made up of four T-shirts and printed out of Irvine. Friedman says the Spruce concept is a mixture of old school art, circa 1940s and 1950s, with a modern skating and surfing vibe that showcases their his passions.
"Designing clothes give me the ability to not only express a new style of clothing to the world, but, more importantly, makes it possible for me to put my artwork on the backs of everyone," says Friedman, the line's graphic artist. "Each design that I develop for Spruce is not just a T-shirt, it is an original piece of artwork."
The young entrepreneurs launched their line in May, and it soon caught the attention of Jack's Surfboards. Store manager Hamed Addelmuti told Patch he saw one of his employees -- who is also a friend of the two teen designers -- wearing a Spruce T-shirt and asked about bringing the line into the store.
"It looked pretty cool, and they go to the local high school, so I thought, 'why not give them a chance,’” Addelmuti said.
A few shelves at Jack's proved to be a good move for both the store and the two teens as the $20 T-shirts have been popular among customers.
"We have pretty much sold out of their shirts ― one of them completely, and the other ones are down to a couple of shirts left," Addelmuti said. "They are doing really good."
The T-shirts each have a different design, including a young woman smoking a peace pipe and the face of a pin-up model with a black sensor across her eyes, which is used to give the old-school art look. The clothing line's slogan, Abstract Mentality, is also printed on every shirt.
"Not only are our clothes different, the people who make them see and do things differently," Boukather said in reference to the slogan. "And we try to demonstrate our abstract mentality on the canvas that is a Spruce shirt."
The pair, who have been close friends since preschool, say they are eager to continue carving out the time to juggle being teenagers and business partners in order to take Spruce Clothing to the next level.
"We definitely work on it a lot on weekends and after school," Boukather said. "We love doing it so much that we make time for it."
"School always comes first, but it is very easy to make time for something that I am so passionate about," Friedman added. "There is never a need to make time for art because it comes naturally. I draw everyday, and it is truly what I love to do."
When Friedman and Boukather aren't creating clothing, they are excelling in similar areas.
Friedman has received numerous design awards including best graphic designer in Corona del Mar High School’s Performing Arts Media Academy for 2012 and first and second place for digital design in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District’s High School Visual Arts Showcase.
Boukather, an aspiring photographer and writer, dedicates much of his time to developing Spruce Clothing's web site, sprucementality.com and all of its social media sites.
Boukather and Friedman say their future plans are to continue cultivating their brand and getting their T-shirts sold in more stores.