Central Ohio high school student starts business as way to spread message

Will Feldman, 17, holds his best-selling pausecircleplay product.
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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Some of the most successful businesses started in unconventional spaces. Google started in a garage. Nike shoes were sold out of a trunk of a car. A central Ohio high schooler started his business in the basement.

Will Feldman, 17, is a senior at Bexley High School. He started pausecircleplay in August. Since then, the online store has been gaining popularity through word-of-mouth.

Feldman sells clothing and stickers featuring a distinct logo with a message, appealing to young people.

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"Pause, Circle, Play. [It] stands for pause — take a deep breath; circle — reflect; and then play — live your best life," Feldman said.

Feldman said it is a message he has to remind himself of, which is why having it on a shirt, sweater or sticker makes it easier.

"It's nice that I get to wake up every day and go to school and have an education — these basic rights that not everyone in the world gets to have," he said. "It's a reminder that no matter what you have, you can find happiness."

Feldman's products are made-to-order. He uses screen printing to put his logo on the shirts. He said the process usually takes two days. Feldman then makes labels for his clothing and sells them in personalized bags with the name of the customer. Each sticker purchased is also made by him using a machine at his home.

Feldman recognizes he could make his products using easier methods, or use a company to make them, but the quality was important to him.

"I want people to know what they're buying," Feldman said. "All clothes have cost... it's not always a monetary cost. When you're paying less money, a lot of times, that cost is going into paying the workers less. It is important to me that there is that balance of a good price, but also good quality and made in an ethical way."

Feldman donates 10% of all sales to a cause of the month. This month, donations will go to The Nature Conservancy.

"What was important to me was giving back to something greater than myself and making something that people liked and something of good quality," he said.

What Feldman is doing is not only cool, but unique. A 2017 Gallup report found U.S. high school students don't have much ambition to start their own business.

The report said, "27% of students in grades nine to 12 plan to start a business." That number is "down from the 33% to 35% range found among this group from 2011 to 2015," according to The Gallup-HOPE Index report.

"I think a lot of people are scared of pursuing things because of failure, but if that's really the worst thing that's going to come from it, then there's no reason not to," Feldman said.

Feldman is expanding his store, adding new products last week due to demand. He believes the meaning behind the brand is what is resonating with people.

"I want it to be in a place where it's not just in your closet. It's in your house. It's everywhere," he said.

For more information and to purchase a product, click here. You can find pausecircleplay on Instagram @pausecircleplay.