Teen starts business with a purpose

(Noah Bustillos)


A Southern California teen’s business started in the family garage and has become a part of a strong movement in Black Lives Matter. Noah Bustillos, 18, created his own clothing brand, Nickel Piece, with some inspiration from family and friends. And that inspiration mirrors Bustillos’ vision of the future and the message in his design.

When did Nickel Piece begin? Was it always something you wanted to do?

First, I wanted to add how the meaning of my brand nickel piece, which is a slang term for the opposite of a dime piece, is that nobody can put a value on yourself besides you. Which also ties into the BLM movement. Your value doesn’t change if your black, white, or brown you are beautiful in your own unique way.

I’ve always had the idea of starting up my own clothing company but didn’t really start putting ideas together until I was in high school. At the time, I couldn’t settle on a name. I had a couple ideas but nothing that stood out. After I graduated, I had a lot more time on my hands and more time to think. While getting inspiration from friends and family, I came up with the name, Nickel Piece, which is a slang term for someone who is rated five out of 10. It’s pretty much the opposite of a “dime piece.” Everybody has their own personality, traits, and is beautiful in our own unique way. What defines beauty? In today’s society, we focus too much on others’ opinions and thoughts, so much so that they often cloud our head causing us to dampen our light of uniqueness.

Do you make every shirt at home in the garage? Is it difficult to do or do you find enjoyment out of the process?

I make all the shirts by hand in my garage. At times it has been difficult, but that’s just the trial and error process. Once I have all my screens, inks, and T-shirts all aligned up, time flies, and often find myself still printing in my garage ’til 3 or 4 a.m. I have been drawing all my life and being inspired by my dad, who is an artist.

The names of black individuals who have died from police brutality (Noah Bustillos)

The names of black individuals who have died from police brutality (Noah Bustillos)

Is the artwork all done yourself?

Yes, I get all my inspiration from going outside, by seeing and hearing other people’s perspectives.

How did the BLM Donation T-shirt come to be?

I saw a need for voicing the injustice, and I took action. After attending multiple events, I wanted to help make a change. Making T-shirts to raise money for the BLM charity was the best solution for me.

How much research and sourcing to find each person’s name who has died due to racial injustice against black individuals in the United States?

These are a long list of names of deaths at the hands of the police since Eric Garner’s death in July 2014, according to a nationally credible news source.

Do you believe more people are breaking their silence and standing up to racial injustice?

Yes, I do, and it’s amazing seeing our generation making a change for the better and not being afraid to speak up for others.

Did you happen to attend any BLM protests?

I’ve attended a couple protests in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach. They were all peaceful sit-down protests or marches. The people that start riots don’t really care about the cause; they’re just taking advantage of the situation.

Do you think the BLM movement will continue to rise?

I believe that the BLM movement will continue to rise because of how dedicated the youth are. This period in history is not a moment, it’s a movement.


Noah’s shop can be found at NickelPiece.com / Instagram: @nickelpiececlothing