Like most teenagers, 15-year-old Keegan Bonds-Harmon loves spending time on social media. But he’s not on Instagram to post selfies. Instead, the high school student is uploading photos and videos in support of his business: Keegan’s Creatures.
The Providence, Rhode Island, native started his business at just 11 years old after he decided to take his love of drawing to the next level. After learning how to screen print, Bonds-Harmon transferred his conceptual designs — which mostly consist of monsters and creatures from his imagination — onto T-shirts. He then began selling them at local artist markets, independent stores and on Etsy.
“I’m making them myself from start to finish,” Bonds-Harmon tells PEOPLE. “It’s been very exciting and fun — both as a business and art venture.”
And when it comes to coming up with his unique designs, the teen, who is a sophomore at The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center in Providence, relies on his surroundings.
“It’s always from random places,” he says. “I’ll see a chain-link fence or a flower or a pattern or color that I really enjoy, and I’ll figure out the visual language to express that.”
He also draws inspiration from his school, The Met, which is an innovative career and technical school where students pursue their passions through internships and projects that make an impact in the community.
“I was lucky enough to find The Met and get accepted,” he says. “I felt it was the perfect fit because of how individualized it was. So I’m able to go to internships two days a week and it offers more of a community setting, which is important to me. They have been very supportive of my business and my artwork. I’m thankful to be able to attend such an amazing school.”
Bonds-Harmon recently won the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship New England Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge — and he’s now competing for the top prize in the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge on Oct. 12 in N.Y.C. He’s also competing for an additional $2,500 prize through a video contest. (Watch his video here.)
And he credits his determination in part to his community.
“When I discovered the Providence art community, that really helped. Seeing people who are making things that are unique and interesting inspired me to get involved,” he says.
“And I think it’s just a general creative drive that a lot of artists and makers have,” adds Bonds-Harmon, who wants to attend art school one day. “For me, it just happened to take form in a business.”