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  • Rocky Mount Telegram

    Teen is one of Hertford's newest full-time entrepreneurs

    By Vernon Fueston The Perqumans Weekly,


    HERTFORD — Dayne Colson is one of Hertford’s newest entrepreneurs.

    That’s hardly a rare distinction with the town on the commercial upswing, but Colson, an advertising specialty manufacturer and a new investor in commercial real estate, just graduated from high school. He is only 18 years old.

    Colson runs Dayne’s Designs out of the old Country Corner Cafe Building at the intersection of Cypress Stretch Lane and Grub Street. He just took a mortgage on the building to house the equipment he’s already gathered after three years in business.

    Dayne’s Designs makes just about anything that can be personalized or have a company logo imprinted on it: team jerseys, T-shirts, drink cups, bracelets, uniform shirts and — his personal favorite — dog waste bags. He says it’s a great giveaway promotion for canine groomers.

    “I tell my good customers before you purchase anything online or anything like that, just ask me for a quote first. Some of the things you wouldn’t think of, I can get,” Colson says, showing off a personalized silicone wristband. “All different types of stuff. I tell people to ask me first if it’s something you can put your logo on.”

    That kind of can-do attitude propelled Dayne’s Designs from an experimental money-making hobby he started, making personalized items with his mom’s Cricut vinyl cutting machine when he was 15 into a full-time business before he was out of high school. In fact, by the time he was a senior at Perquimans County High School, Colson was finding school a drag on his career.

    He’d worked hard academically, so he only had one credit to earn in his last year of high school. Colson received permission to earn one credit for his work experience, signing the forms in his guidance counselor’s office as both student and employer.

    His first serious projects were done more as favors for worthy local charities, making personalized shirts and other items to raise money for people facing daunting medical costs. He said that got his name out there, and business has been building steadily ever since. Colson said he knows that drive is unusual for someone his age.

    “I never really saw a career path other than working for myself,” he said. “I really wanted to do this, operating my own business and doing things on my own. I still don’t see myself going back to that (working for someone else.)”

    Today, he sells to businesses in Pasquotank, Perquimans and Chowan counties as well as to local schools and sports teams.

    His shop boasts an embroidering machine, a heat-transfer imprinter, screen-printing equipment, and, of course, his mom’s old Cricut machine. He said he specializes in one-of-a-kind orders, work that other shops shun, applying a bit of youthful marketing savvy.

    “I do a lot of one-offs,” he says, pointing to an order waiting for pick-up. Colson said filling a one-of-a-kind order already led to a second contract for further work. He called such work “investments.”

    If Colson can’t do the job himself, he has agreements with other local manufacturers who can. A local laser engraver can do anything from etched faux leather patches on a baseball cap to imprinting on drink cups, for instance. Colson also said he can arrange to bring just about any technology to bear on a project that a customer can imagine.

    Colson said that he lives at home, keeping his expenses down while he grows his business. He called his recently acquired shop a “fixer-upper,” so he foresees hard work ahead while he concentrates on paying off his short-term mortgage. After that, Colson said he sees smooth sailing for his fledgling business.

    He’s also looking ahead. Part of the building still has a functioning kitchen left over from the former restaurant that occupied it. He keeps that in place in case the opportunity arises to bring a tenant, making him a landlord.

    But he did allow himself one perk after successfully moving into his new building. He gave himself a year-end bonus: a pickup truck he keeps parked outside the shop.

    He is 18 years old, after all.

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