17-year-old Jose Rodriguez is the founder and CEO of his very own company. But the Rhode Island teenager couldn’t have gotten there without his younger brother, Joel, who inspired him.
Joel is on the autism spectrum and fidgets and moves around a lot, trying to get the sensory input he needs to cope with the world around him. Jose wanted to do something to help him fidget less, or at least in a less disruptive manner when he’s in public.
Now big brother Jose is using fashion to help people like his brother. He has been making t-shirts with a grommet added to the bottom to hold a keychain or other fidget toys for the wearer to play with anytime they feel like they need to. He also added other fidget gadgets to the bottoms of his original shirts.
“I got his input on it. he said it was awesome,” Jose recalls. “And we got the first one, threw it on him, and it went well. He loved it.”
Jose started a company to create and sell the shirts called “Tasium“—an anagram of “autism.” The brand even won the National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge against 20,000 other contestants.
“My mom cried. My dad cried everybody cried. Except me and my brother,” Jose says. “We were just so happy. Our smiles just couldn’t get wiped away though.”
Jose won $12,000 in cash prizes at the contest. “This opportunity means the world to me and my family,” he says. “I look forward to building Tasium to not only help my little brother but others like him. My business plan is intact and my operating plan is to bring Tasium to the next level in marketing and production.”
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Jose, who attends the Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center, says that his invention solves the problem of traditional fidget toys, which are easily lost or misplaced. Having a built-in fidget toy attached to your shirt means you always have it around when you need it. And the grommet allows different types of toys to be attached to the shirt, so you can move your favorite fidget toy from shirt to shirt or try different toys every day.
We can’t wait to see how people with autism or ADHD respond to Jose’s shirts. This could be a game-changer for fidgety people around the world!Whizzco