Shawn Jackson surprised me in the best way possible through his invitation to be his podcast guest and the way he addresses men and women with "king" and "queen." Listen to this episode and see how two people can turn over biases of all sorts by normal conversation to motivate an inspire.
CHAMPIONS CONNECT Podcast and Shawn Jackson
Shawn Jackson of Lewiston said highlighting successful Black businesses like Kings’ is important to inspire young Black entrepreneurs who may be surrounded by negative influences like he was, growing up in a high-crime area of Florida. Some years ago he ended up staying in Maine after what was supposed to be a short visit. The people he was traveling with left him behind.
“When I came up here, I didn’t know heroin was as big as it was, and I don’t do (hard) drugs because I’m an athlete,” he said. “He had laced a blunt with heroin. I wanted to fight him, and so he told me to catch a bus back to Florida.” Jackson had no money for the trip so he started working at Hannaford in Gardiner, and for a while lived at Trinity Men’s Shelter in Skowhegan. During that time, Jackson kept telling himself he could “do better, be better.”
So he decided to start his own business. Outside of his various day and night jobs — working security at bars in Portland’s Old Port, as a manager at Hannaford and now as a FedEx driver — he has built a clothing design business, Upstylish, specializing in shirts with inspirational quotes, and now face masks. Jackson mainly advertised by word of mouth, handing out business cards and wearing his T-shirts to the gym or his security jobs. When Rose Barboza heard his story, she asked him to join Black Owned Maine and is now helping him find stores that will carry his clothing.
Jackson said he started Upstylish to show people who grew up in situations like his that there are options outside of crime. He sees Black Owned Maine as furthering that mission.