Broadening the narrative around higher education is our MISSION.
Advocating through our student-crafted product assortment is an expression of our STYLE.
Providing business apprenticeships for young adults in Nashville is our PURPOSE.
The founders at Alyn Vaughn were inspired to launch a social enterprise where style and purpose intersect. Our mission is to broaden the narrative around higher education. Simply put, a call to action to implement student apprenticeships across America. We are accomplishing this by using business partnerships that begin in high school, in addition to supporting vocational school as an equally esteemed alternative to a four-year degree. Apprenticeships can provide skills in a variety of areas, such as tech, business operations, sales, insurance, healthcare, manufacturing, or the trades. Apprenticeships can also lead directly to full-time employment upon high school graduation. For high school students less inclined to attend college or vocational school, an apprenticeship could be the difference between poverty and realized potential.
With our collective experience and business acumen, we hit the ground running. Our strategy? Get in front of people and share our message face to face using our student-crafted assortment to connect with consumers. We have a saying at Alyn Vaughn, “You wear it, you share it." Within days we had signed on our first group of apprentices and secured a pop-up space on busy 12th Avenue South in Nashville, TN, thanks to the generosity and support of Jesse and Liz Minor, proprietors of Minor's Jewelry. Our beginnings were humble. We had a simple tent and display boards made from discarded wood. Now we have a fully functioning kiosk.
Before we knew it business was taking off, almost faster than we could keep up, and our tight-knit group was evolving into a close family. While our mission supports focusing primarily on business skills, much to our surprise, we found ourselves mentoring our youth to provide life skills they didn’t receive at home or school.
During our first year, we worked over 200+ shows, speaking face to face with thousands of customers all unanimously saying “Things must change and they must change now.” We as a society must join together to advocate for our youth by supporting them, whatever path they choose, thus removing the stigma that accompanies not acquiring a four-year degree. But it goes further than this. We need businesses to reassess their hiring policies as well. Is a bachelor's degree and five years experience really necessary for an entry-level position?
Young people would rather disappoint their parents by getting caught smoking or drinking than to disappoint their parents by not acquiring a four-year degree, even if they feel it isn't the best fit for them. There is so much pressure to adhere to society's expectations, which sadly, often leads to enormous debt and unsustainable employment. How many marketing or communication degrees can this country employ each year? Shouldn't degrees be tailored more to fit a wider range of employment opportunities? It's time to set aside the expectations and guide our youth to opportunities that will lead to sustainable employment without the burden of college debt. The truth is, times are changing at warped speed, and we need to look at the landscape of job opportunities and alternative paths to education to ensure we’re leading youth to make sound decisions about higher education.
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Alyn Vaughn is dedicated to every individual on this team who has poured in passion, creativity, and tenacity at all hours of the day and night because that's what it takes. To all of our parents who raised us, taught us and loved us. To our loved ones, friends and mentors who said: “We support you!" To the many teachers who have encouraged students on our team. To the many shop owners who took a chance on a new brand championing for change. And to our many, many customers who have shown us more love and support in our first year than we ever could have imagined. And to Rick, there are no words to adequately express our gratitude.