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12-Year-Old Sam Kim: Entrepreneur, Philanthropist

Once a school project, Sam Kim's clothing company, BeFly, has grown into a real company that donates 20 percent of its sales to charity

We all remember the assignment: Create your own company. Students around the country take up the challenge every year. But how many of those ideas leap from the classroom to become real-life success stories?

Sam Kim's idea did just that. Last year, the 12-year-old launched BeFly, a clothing company that gives 20 percent of its profits to charity. The venture began as a school project — no one expected the idea to turn into a full-fledged business.

In September 2010, Kim was charged with creating a mock company for his media class at . The assignment intended for students to learn about advertising. Kim immediately thought of apparel, which is so often adorned in logos.

It's Cool to Be Yourself

The name of the clothing company, BeFly, is another way of saying “be cool” or “be fresh,” but Kim says the real message is “It’s cool to be yourself — to be an individual.” 

Kim designs the duds himself, using Adobe Photoshop. Much of the line has original artwork and many of the pieces feature logos from local schools, such as or Oak Grove Elementary. There are plenty of choices: T-shirts, fleeces, shorts, towels, bags, wristbands and more.

“Lots of kids just wear T-shirts,” Kim said. “They don’t want fancy clothes.”

In all, BeFly has sold some 150 pieces, to both kids and adults. Much of the business is local, but BeFly has had some out-of-state customers. The company also just tapped into a new market, supplying apparel to area summer camps.

More than a Fashion Statement

Buying clothes from BeFly, though, is more than a fashion statement. A fifth of the company’s sales are set aside for charity. Kim has been giving to local schools, he says, but has a new idea.

“We’re going to go to the inner-city to look at a baseball team and buy equipment for them,” Kim said.

Kim's parents are proud. They encouraged him to stick with BeFly to learn about entrepreneurship and giving. The apple doesn’t fall far: Sam’s father, Sam Kim Sr., recently started his own health-supply store, Liberty Hearing & Health Supply

“The whole idea is to give back,” Sam’s mother Betsy Kim explained. “He’s been fortunate to have what he’s had.” 

The lesson stuck: “At this age, I think it’s better giving money than keeping it yourself,” Sam said.

Balancing Business, School, Fun

As for the future, Sam’s balancing BeFly with his studies and a run at the major leagues.

“I want to do BeFly for fun. It may go on forever — I hope it does,” he said. “But I want to have a career in baseball.”

For more information about the company, visit: www.BeFlyNow.com.

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