Young and owning it

Boutique Owners

These Long Island entrepreneurs in their 20s were bitten by fashion and style bugs early, including a former NFL hopeful and physical therapist who pivoted to designer, one who opened her women’s clothing store when she was just a teenager and another who now owns a shop she used to work for.

Malik Morris, 27

Owner of Malik Dupri, Roosevelt Field Mall

“Whatever idea you have, start it and stop wasting time.”

Malik Morris

His pursuits of physical therapy and football careers got sidelined, but when Morris created his own fashion brand, he upped his game.

Morris, who now owns the Malik Dupri unisex fashions store at Roosevelt Field, says music artists such as Rick Ross, Ciara, Young M.A and Chinese Kitty have worn his sunglasses.

“I look up to Daymond John and P. Diddy as they made their mark on the fashion industry with stylish, simple but luxurious everyday fashion,” says Morris, of Elmont. “My store is a vibe. It’s a mix between luxury and urban streetwear.”

Morris graduated from Sewanhaka High School in Floral Park and received a doctorate in physical therapy from Ithaca College. His big dream was to play for the NFL, but he decided instead to focus on getting his doctorate. After receiving that degree in 2018, he worked as a physical therapist until he was furloughed in March 2020 due to COVID.

Always ready to pivot, what Morris had learned in a 10th-grade computer graphic design class helped take him in a different direction. “I didn’t know how useful that would be until, seven years later, I helped to start a clothing line called Savage Ruthless in college,” Morris says of the design course. “Besides that, I didn’t have any formal design training or real fashion experience.”

Morris later created the Malik Dupri brand (Dupri is his middle name). He sold his designs from the basement of his parents’ house at first, then shifted to online sales, and in November 2020, opened a sunglass kiosk at Roosevelt Field. He moved into a 1,200-square-foot store space at the mall in June 2021.

To fund his brand, Morris applied for business credit through Chase, and he says his parents have been supportive. He wants to eventually see stores like Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom selling Malik Dupri.

Asked if it’s challenging to keep up with the rent you’re charged for having a store in a top mall, Morris says, it can be. “I have a lot of expenses between store rent, payroll and other expenses,” Morris says, but, “at the end of the day, you’re also paying for some guaranteed foot traffic.”

Morris also has the distinction of being one of the youngest owners in the mall, per Roosevelt Field’s marketing team.

Roosevelt Field Mall, 630 Old Country Rd., Garden City; 516-742-8000;

— Lisa Irizarry

Ahmed Khalil, 22, and Mohammed Saleh, 23

Owners of Selected Hype, Smith Haven Mall

“You miss out on the opportunity if you do not take the chance.”

Ahmed Khalil

Khalil’s love for sneakers snuck up on him before he was a teenager. He co-owns the Selected Hype sneakers and unisex streetwear store at the Smith Haven Mall in Lake Grove with his friend, Saleh, of East Brunswick.

“The concept of the store is buy, sell, trade,” Khalil, of Ridge, explains. “People can bring in their brand new or slightly used sneakers to sell, or trade up towards something else they might like at the store.”

Originally from Piscataway, New Jersey, Khalil says he can identify with people needing options when they want to purchase the sneakers they like. “I have been obsessed with sneakers and streetwear for years now,” Khalil says. But while growing up, he couldn’t afford those he wanted so he got a job at a sneaker store to make that happen. “I would have fellow employees help me get some of the new releases with their discount. I would sell the limited release sneakers for a profit and the profit would then pay for the pair I wanted to keep.”

Khalil, who went to New Jersey’s Rutgers University where he majored in economics and minored in business administration, later amassed sneakers for a personal collection of nearly 50 pairs ranging from Jordans to Yeezys to Nike Dunks and New Balances.

“After a certain amount of time, sneaker brands like Jordan tend to re-release older sneakers, so all of the sneakers that were released when I was in middle school started releasing,” Khalil says. “I would grab them for nostalgia purposes and that is how my collection started.” He adds, “My obsession started in 2010, when I was only 11 years old, but I actually didn’t get my first sneakers until I was 17 years old.”

Selected Hype opened in October 2021, with prices ranging from $100 to more than $7,000.

Khalil says his goal for the future is to have multiple stores and develop the brand into an “experience” that goes beyond sneakers and streetwear.

313 Smith Haven Mall; 516-732-5909

— Lisa Irizarry

Carissa Cillis, 29

Owner of What A Girl Wants, Wantagh

“Do not give up. When you feel your lowest is when you need to work your hardest.”

Carissa Cillis

Cillis says she’s loved shopping ever since she was old enough to walk a mall by herself, and by the time she was in her early 20s, she already owned her own clothing store.

At What A Girl Wants, she sells everything from clothing and accessories for women and teens to plush toys for children and items for the home.Cillis took over ownership of the store when she was 21 – she started thinking of a possible career in fashion while a student at Seaford High School.

“I knew I was very interested when I decided to take summer classes at FIT in 10th grade that were offered to high school students,” Cillis, of Seaford, says. “I took a summer class again the following year at LIM because at that point I only wanted to attend one of the two colleges. I thought, ‘Why study fashion any place other than New York City?’”

Like the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), LIM College prepares students for fashion careers. Cillis also went to Barry Tech BOCES in 11th and 12th grade, “so half my day was spent there,” Cillis says.

Her preparations for a job in fashion paid off — sooner than expected and in an unexpected way. “Owning a business was never really in the spectrum for me,” Cillis says. “I was ready to pursue a career in corporate America.” She adds, “To be honest it seemed impossible to get there in my mind, but the opportunity fell into my lap and it was fate.”

Cillis had started working at What A Girl Wants as a salesperson when she was 18 and she asked her boss if she could attend a trade show with her. While in the car with her boss, Cillis told her that her father had jokingly said to ask her boss if she wanted a partner. Cillis’ boss confided that she was actually quietly planning to sell the business but she didn’t want to sell it to just anyone. Three years after she started working there Cillis owned the store.

1188 Wantagh Ave.; 516-809-9270;

— Lisa Irizarry

Jasmine Richards, 28

Co-owner of Anoz Spa Boutique, Garden City

“Start small. Get your sea legs and work out the kinks for when you blow up.”

Jasmine Richards

Not a lot of people can say they’ve loved going to a spa since childhood, but Jasmine Richards can. The Uniondale resident helped run a spa as a preteen.

Today, Richards co-owns Anoz Spa Boutique with her mother, Sharon Webb-Richards of Queens Village; and it was through her mother and other women in her family that Richards learned how to run a business. Being a female entrepreneur was tradition. Her aunt owns the upscale Negril Village restaurant in Manhattan.

The only job Richards ever had besides working at a spa was a brief stint at Trader Joe’s when her mother closed her spa in Commack. Another spa Richards’ mother owned was Lux Spa and Wellness in Garden City, which opened when Richards was 19. Her mother’s friend had rented a space for her physical therapy practice and asked Richard’s mother if she’d like to share the site and start a business there too.

“My mother said she would only do it if we did it together,” Richards says. “I was good at marketing and we were there about a year,” then the pair moved to a larger space when that spa did so well they needed a larger location. A graduate of Bay Shore High School, Richards attended SUNY Old Westbury and The Swedish Institute for Massage Therapy in Manhattan but dropped out of SUNY because, “It was too much to run a business and be in college.”

The mother/daughter team opened Anoz nearly five years ago, with the name being that of Richard’s late grandmother, Zona, spelled backward. Referring to her Jamaican heritage and the relaxed, tropical atmosphere of Anoz, Richards says, “We wanted to bring that vibe and that of a vacation.”

Richards does a bit of everything there.

“I do all the marketing, Instagram … I did the logo, made the reception desk from scratch, and laid the floors,” Richards says. “It’s my Jamaicanness — doing everything.”

8025 Jericho Turnpike; 516-802-7837;

— Lisa Irizarry

Luca Williams, 16

Owner of Moonshot Emporium, Sea Cliff

“A lot of people just scoff at the idea, but you really just have to go with it. It’s really not impossible.”

Luca Williams

After a few months of selling items at flea markets and record conventions, Williams, an 11th grader at Portledge School in Locust Valley, made the bold move to open his own brick-and-mortar, Moonshot Emporium, in 2020.

Williams says he got tired of “peddling around crates of records and setting up tables and everything” at these pop ups, calling it “unpleasant” at times. He saw the potential in the vinyl record biz: “I thought it was an easy market. With COVID, it was so obvious that the market was really gong to explode compared to when I got my first record” in 2017-18. “It was still somewhat of a niche thing, but now records are everywhere.”

His store is divided into two sections: Superior Records (where Williams sells his records) and Crazy Lady Vintage (friend Lisa Leonardi’s vintage clothing company).

While Williams is at school, his mother helps operate the business, which is, technically, his first real job. When he is working, though, most of his time is spent “pricing records and getting them into the store.”

When the time comes, Williams plans on attending college and possibly studying literature, he says.

316 Sea Cliff Ave; 516-806-2500

— Joann Vaglica

Jordan Krauss, 23

Owner of Love and Honey Boutique, East Meadow

“Confidence is key. You must believe within yourself that you can be something great alone.”

Jordan Krauss

Krauss realized early on that school just wasn’t for her, but owning her own clothing store certainly was. When the West Islip resident was just 19 years old, she opened Love and Honey Boutique.

Krauss, of West Islip, graduated from Commack High School and went to Suffolk County Community College, but she quit college after the first year and started working full-time as a retail sales associate in a women’s fashion store.

Fashion had been her true passion for as long as Krauss can remember. Growing up, her father would take her to his Greenvale shoe warehouse on Sundays and it was the highlight of her week. Her aunt attended Parsons School of Design, and at first Krauss wanted to follow in her footsteps.

Krauss says fashion was an outlet for being “authentically myself.” Her store carries clothing for women and teens.

She adds, “When I decided that I wanted to open a store I knew succeeding was the only option. I knew I would never go back to school; it wasn’t for me.”

And being her own boss was important, Krauss notes.

“I wanted to work for myself to feel free – to succeed and prove to myself that I could accomplish my wildest dream solo,” Krauss says. “I think so many millennials should know if I can do it, you can too. With so many resources at our fingertips, and social media to aid the growth of a business, you can succeed alone at any age.”

Love and Honey has become her “baby,” Krauss says, and she’s got big plans for her baby’s growth.

“I’m going to raise her to be a prosperous, self-sufficient empire,” Krauss says. “I dream of warehouses with hundreds of workers, my own design team and much more.” She adds, “This is certainly just the beginning for me.”

2332A Hempstead Turnpike; 516-342-6847;

— Lisa Irizarry

Gabrielle Banschick, 29

Owner of Penelope, Woodbury

“Be willing to put in the work. You can’t be concerned about taking off or your weekends.”

Gabrielle Banschick

When Banschick was in summer camp, other kids would line up outside her bunk waiting for her to style their T-shirts.

“I was always super creative,” the graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan says recalling her camp days. “I’d cut everyone’s T-shirts and cut them in different ways … I’d do fringe …”

She represents the fourth generation of retailers in her family who owned men’s or women’s clothing stores. “Some people like to collect art and I like to wear mine,” Banschick says.

Penelope was opened about 20 years ago by Gabrielle’s parents, Ira and Marta, who started the boutique on Merrick Road in Bellmore. The Woodbury store is now owned by Banschick and her father. Most of the selections are ‘60s- and ‘70s-inspired — two decades Banschick says she gravitates to despite her age. The shop is named after Penelope Tree, an English model famous in the 1960s.

“I like the music; I like the miniskirts and bell bottoms — they show off a woman’s body,” Banschickm who lives in Great Neck, says.

Banschick says her father noticed his daughter’s eye for style when she’d help in the first Penelope store as a child. “Women come into the store now and remember me selling them a pair of jeans when I was 11,” Banschick says. There are other things about her job today that are reminders of the past, like those days in camp. “I wake up to texts from customers asking me what to wear.”

But as much as Banschick adores fashion, she warns that owning a store isn’t that glamorous. “It’s not easy,” Banschick says. “You have to predict fashions before they happen and that’s not an easy thing to do, and you have to take the chance that they’ll sell well.”

8025 Jericho Turnpike; 516-802-7837;

— Lisa Irizarry

Katie Goulding, 24

Owner of AJ Sunflower in Center Moriches

“Anyone who has a dream should chase it, but being in business isn’t easy. Keeping up with inventory and the latest trends is a big thing.”

Katie Goulding

Owning a men’s and women’s clothing and home décor store at just 24 and co-owning a lifestyle brand was unexpected for Goulding, but the ventures are by no means the biggest challenges she has faced. She’s deaf, and it took 14 years of speech therapy for her to learn to speak perfectly.

“I had every intention at first of being a teacher for the deaf and hard-of-hearing students having the experience myself,” Goulding, who has a cochlear implant, says. She graduated from William Floyd High School in Shirley and earned a teaching degree from St. Joseph’s College in Patchogue.

But Goulding tried working for the Amelia James online women’s clothing company first, which changed the course of her pursuits. A smaller version of LuLaRoe, the company recruits independent fashion consultants to sell products.

“I wanted to try something different involving fashion,” Goulding says. “I never thought I would have a store but Amelia James turned out to be the best thing I ever did — it led to the store.” Goulding loved the experience so much that she gives a nod to the company in the name of her shop.

Her career direction took a new turn one day when Goulding went to say hello to the owner of a consignment shop that used to be in the AJ Sunflower space, not knowing the shop was destined to be hers.

“She sold the business and inventory,” Goulding says of the consignment store owner. “She moved out and I took over the store and it was the biggest big girl thing I ever did in my life.” Goulding’s parents helped by lending her a total of $5,000 for the first month’s rent and security.

Goulding recently also fulfilled her original goal of being a teacher. When not at the store or working on her brand, she teaches the deaf and hard-of-hearing for Eastern Suffolk BOCES.

30 Main St.; 631-909-8008;

— Lisa Irizarry

Editor: Meghan Giannotta

Photo editor: David Trotman-Wilkins

Multimedia by: Debbie Egan-Chin, Johnny Milano, John Paraskevas, Linda Rosier, Barry Sloan, Alejandra Villa Loarca, J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Producers: Meghan Giannotta and Alison Bernicker

Design: Anthony Carrozzo