Jul 22, 2019

Student sells hats to pay for school

By Jatoi Moore

Fresno State student turned entrepreneur, Nigel Burton, 23, has been on a mission to “spread positivity” with his custom hat line Just Be Dope (JBD.)

“Just Be Dope began because I needed help with my college expenses like food, gas and books,” Burton said. “I was struggling, but I used my entrepreneurial spirit to help me succeed.”

Burton started his business at the beginning of 2013. He personally designs and picks fabric for each custom hat. The line also features brightly colored floral hats that come in a variety of colors with a hand-stitched JBD logo. Burton sells his merchandise in the Free Speech Area on campus during high-traffic hours.

He credits his sister and investor Natasha Burton as the inspiration behind the line and its success.

“My sister Natasha bought my first 12 hats, and I sold eight in the first week,” Burton said. “That’s when I knew this could be something amazing for me.”

With the growth of the business and more than 130 hats sold, JBD has raised more than $4,000. Burton is now working with the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Fresno State to further his business.

“It’s been an amazing journey to see the brand grow,” said Reggie Holmon, sales ambassador for JBD.  “I love seeing students in their JBD hats. It excites me.

JBD uses its profits to sponsor many Fresno State events like breast cancer awareness fundraisers, Fresno State poetry jams and inspiring impoverished kids.

“Nigel is the most kind-hearted person I know,” said Quiera Richardson, a friend and JBD customer. “He genuinely cares about the Fresno community and tries to give back whenever he can.”

“Just Be Dope represents being different, embracing being different and not worrying about being accepted,” Burton said. “My goal is to inspire students to be positive and find their passion.”

JBD’s next venture for Fresno State students will include the Just Be Dope Celebration of Arts Talent Show. With this event coming up in April, Burton hopes to give exposure to all Fresno State students who are passionate about being different and highlighting their talents.

“I want to create a safe and fun environment for creativity,” Burton said. “Even if its martial arts, I want them to participate. I want to highlight all talents and embrace every student’s passion.”

Winners of the contest will be given JBD merchandise and cash prizes.

In the coming semesters, JBD will be expanding to shirts and sweatshirts.

“Just Be Dope is all about positive vibes. That’s what I stand for, and that’s what I want my brand to stand for,” Burton said.

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