Deven Jackson knew as early as kindergarten he wanted to be a businessman when he grew up.
“I started out just doing like elite socks in my garage, spray painting them, selling them to my friends in middle school,” Jackson said. “And we started to grow. We were Team Elite 907 back then. Man, that was a long time ago.”
Six years is a long time when you’re seventeen.
Jackson hopes that his latest business venture, League, will serve a unique niche in the state. The store opened up in the Dimond Mall, the largest mall in the state, on July 13. It looks to be the first store in the state to specialize in high-end urban streetwear.
For Alaskans trying to purchase the latest Air Jordans, or the styles they see in a Drake music video, there really aren’t a lot of local options. Jackson wants to change that.
“What Alaska has really been craving is a good streetwear brand, and so we decided that we were gonna be the ones to don that,” Jackson said. “That was our thing.”
On opening day, about eight customers are in the store, poring through hangers with flashy hoodies and checking out the extensive sneaker display. For a small lease space in the mall, it’s kinda packed.
The selection ranges from local art to racks of vintage attire, most of which was stocked through local business partner John Deat, formerly of RAGE Alaska.
But Jackson says the main draw of League is the high-end stuff.
“Super, super high-end, almost impossible to get clothing items,” Jackson said.” I mean, a regular hoodie could go for almost $400. A pair of shorts could go for $300. You never know. I would say we have anything you can’t get, to keep it simple.”
Jackson just graduated from West Anchorage High School. He says he’s the first black store owner at the Dimond Mall, and he thinks he might be the youngest store owner in the state.
Jackson says he made efforts to talk to business owners around town about the nitty-gritty points of running a store. He says he raised all of the money for the store through fundraisers in the community and his own savings. He didn’t have to travel too far to get advice.
“Somebody that helped me out a lot is my dad, because he owned a business for over 20 years,” Jackson said. “He’s helped me. He’s in here helping right now.”
Deven Jackson doesn’t have any paid employees yet, just volunteer help. One of the volunteers helping put a decal on the store window is his father, Eric.
“Ever since he’s been old enough to talk, he’s dreamed of owning his own business, had a desire to be a great business owner,” Eric Jackson said. “He can take just about anything and turn it around for his favor, so he’s got that gift, I guess.”
Deven is going to Southern Wesleyan University in South Carolina in the fall, where he plans to play basketball and major in business administration. And he has big ambitions.
“A wise man once told me, you can’t be a millionaire unless you’ve got six different businesses. And I feel that League is something small, but absolutely something big as well,” Jackson said. “It’s just the first step into growing my enterprise, really.”
And just because he’ll be thousands of miles away, that doesn’t mean Jackson won’t be keeping close tabs on his business.
“With technology now, it’s really not gonna be too hard. I have control and vision over almost everything,” Jackson said. “But I have people I definitely trust. It’ll sell itself because like I said, it’s the only place in Alaska that does this. We’ll be okay.”
Deven Jackson says his six-month plan is for League to be sustainable, so he can look to his next venture.