Many people have hopes to open a business when they get out of high school, but there are two high school seniors who have already achieved just that. The two students, who wish to remain anonymous, have started a not-for-profit by the name of Just Adventure Art (JAA) with the mission of promoting equitable and inclusive outdoor spaces for people of different ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, and sexual orientations through art. Their goal is to sell art (pieces that they create, as well as from other artists) on their website, and raise money for coalitions who are already working towards their mission.
“There are organizations that are doing the stuff that we want to support, and we know that we don’t have the resources or ability or knowledge to do that directly,” they said. “All we want to do is support organizations that are already doing these things through our donations.”
They decided to remain anonymous because they felt like as “white or light passing people” they didn’t have the background to talk on these issues and would rather just support the people who do. They added, “We don’t want to be these ‘white saviors,’ because there are a lot of charities that try and do good, but they end up hindering the development of these movements.”
The pair have always talked about inequity within the outdoors and finally came around to decide that they really wanted to do something about it.
The process to set up their business was no easy task. Neither of them are 18, which made it difficult to do things like set up a bank account, nor did they have much expertise when it came to knowing how to start a business. The pair had discussions with other local nonprofits to help advise them on their process. After they figured out how they wanted to do things, it got the ball rolling for them to get started and actually putting it all together. They filed for not-for-profit and were granted it. They got a grant through Monarch Community Outreach, opened a bank account (with some adult assistance) and started up their website. They both created and found other pieces to sell, then got them formatted and printed, and then finally chose the coalitions they wanted to donate their money to.
The duo also focused on putting a lot of thought into how they wanted their website to look. They wanted it to be about more than just shopping, but rather about gathering resources for people to look at and be able to educate them on JAA’s mission.
The two have already gotten the word out a bit about JAA, and so far seen a great response with some organizations who are both wanting to work with them, and some others who want to partner with them.
“I think it’s really cool to get a foot in the door with a lot of these groups,” they said. “We sent out a bunch of emails to these organizations asking for permission to promote their websites, and getting emails back from these bigger organizations saying ‘we support your project and we’re willing to help in any way we can’ was just super awesome.”
They also appreciated the whole experience that came with putting their project together and bringing their idea to life. Throughout the process, they have learned a lot about opening a business and everything that entails, as well as the importance of keeping their plans loose, as things will inevitably change. They have also learned a lot themselves, from the resources they have gathered from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) and LGBTQ+ outdoor organizations, from the articles they have posted on their site and from the other sites they have visited to collect them all.
“We’re trying to educate ourselves and at the same time, we’re pushing others to educate themselves. We’re doing our best to direct them towards the resources to do that.”
They have also realized throughout their process that they have to be open to suggestions.
“We know we’re going to make mistakes along the way, and we know people are going to tell us about that,” they said. “That’s just part of being an ally and starting a not-for-profit. We’re going to try our best and we’re going to keep learning every day. But we’re going to make mistakes and that’s ok.”
In the future, the pair hopes to follow through with JAA as they enter college. Although their first couple of months have been stressful, they hope that they can get a handle on it and continue it while they are in college and get their name out there.
Both of them have created art pieces which are available on their website but are also hoping to find other artists who would like to contribute their work as well. In the next few months, if anyone is interested in donating their work or has any questions about JAA they can reach out and contact them at [email protected] More information can also be found at their website at https://www.justadventureart.com and on their Instagram @justadventureart.