MODESTO — "Follow your dreams."
The simple phrase couldn't be more complicated. While children are encouraged to "reach for the stars" and accomplish the impossible, many dreams have been long forgotten by the time youths are old enough to take a shot at achieving them.
A life of settling is something 22-year-old Ceres resident Luis Castillo refused to accept. Growing up on the south side of Modesto, he moved to Ceres in his sophomore year and later graduated from Central Valley High School. After graduating from DeVry University in Fremont, Castillo saw many of his fellow students pursue careers in which they had little to no interest, just for the opportunity to make money. With this in mind, he decided to use his degree in design to start Bestia Story, "A Clothing Line With a Story Line."
Originally, Castillo wanted to write a children's book that would have all his characters in it, but was inspired to do more with the idea of a clothing line, as he was tired of "walking through the mall and noticing shirts that had just random designs on them or just a big logo of the company. So I decided: Why not make shirts that actually tell a story and give the customer a little more?"
And that's what he did. Using the conventional idea of a children's tale, Castillo took the unconventional route of telling the story through the clothes.
"Imagine a kid's book text on the left and a picture on the right," Castillo said. "Now take away the picture and page and put a shirt on the right. Each chapter comes with six shirts, each a different page of the story. When someone buys a shirt, they get a booklet with the entire chapter, but only with text. To get the images, they have to collect the other shirts."
Following his dream
While the business still is small, it's been successful, Castillo says. "We've recently reached over 1,400 fans on Facebook and launched a line of sweaters this past winter that sold out very quickly" he said in a telephone interview. "We're even selling to groups outside of California, so business has been good for a company of our size."
Especially because the whole business was started with money out of Castillo' own pocket. "While I was a junior, I got a job at a great design firm in Hayward. I learned a lot and was able to save enough to launch the business. I worked for a little over a year and then left to start Bestia Story."
Castillo manages this largely one-man operation from his home in Ceres and through the Bestia Story website, with some help from business partner George Dulos in Livermore.
While there has been a good deal of success and growth, there have been some challenging moments in the early life of Bestia Story.
"There's a lot of trial and error. At one point, we bought 300 shirts that didn't sell," Castillo recalled with a laugh. "But we learn from the mistakes we make and take the good with the bad. It's a learning process."
Success definitely is not a sure thing in starting a small business, especially with an operation such as Bestia Story. "It's good because you can set your own hours, but it's bad because you can set your own hours. You're always thinking about (the company), but I love it. For me, it has always been more of a creative effort than a business."
A learning process
Asked what advice he has for kids with a creative business venture in mind, Castillo said, "Tell them to research it a lot. Try out what they like and never think that they know everything. You never can know everything, even if you think you do. We're always learning it's a long process."
Castillo has given lectures on graphic design and said he "would definitely be open to talking with students in the future."
Starting out with just 30 shirts, the outcome of the company was never certain. But with the success Bestia has had so far with its website and online store, the word is slowly but surely getting out. Castillo has certainly "followed his dream" and is putting in the maximum effort to let others know that they can as well.
For more information, visit www.bestiastory.com.
Patrick Germann is a freshman at CSU Stanislaus and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom Program.