Mo Bridges founded his tie company Mo's Bows when he was 9 years old, and he and his mom have developed it into a fast-growing business.
When asked how his deal with the NBA came about, Mo's Bows' 15-year-old founder and CEO Moziah Bridges told Business Insider that the league learned about him and "they decided I was a cool guy who makes cool ties."
Bridges, who runs his Memphis-based tie company with his mom Tramica Morris, inked a seven-figure, one-year licensing deal with the NBA in May to produce bow ties for all 30 professional basketball teams.
It marks a new chapter for Bridges and Morris, who were introduced to millions of viewers when they appeared on "Shark Tank" in 2013. Bridges told the story of how he decided that he wanted to start making his own bow ties. He'd had a dapper sense of style and love of fashion for as long as he could remember, and his grandmother, a retired seamstress, taught him how to cut and sew fabric. Soon, his mom helped him build a business around his creations.
Kevin O'Leary made an offer, but Daymond John, who had declined to make an offer, said he would agree to be Bridges' mentor for free as long as he didn't take O'Leary's deal. John explained that he identified with Bridges, as a fellow son of a single mom who worked with her to build a clothing business, FUBU, out of their house. He told Bridges it was in his and Morris' best interest to avoid giving up an ownership stake in their business at its size.
Bridges took up John on his deal, and John made good on his promise. Any time Bridges and Morris come to New York City, John invites them to his office or get lunch with them.
"He gives me great advice," Bridges said. "Just to always stay humble and always stay true to my brand. And always, most importantly, take care of my mom."
From the business' launch, Bridges has been the visionary and lead designer of Mo's Bows, He was nine when he started the company, so his mom handled the numbers and operations. But as Bridges has grown, Morriss has incorporated him into her decision-making.
It's both a crash course in business as much as it is a lesson in growing up.
"I brought him more into the process, so that means when I sit down and do the books, I show him everything that's coming in and what's going out," Morris said. "He's able to understand at that point why he can't get a $300 pair of shoes. We'll budget."
Bridges primarily sketches designs and works with an in-house graphic designer to refine them.
Since 2011, Mo's Bows has brought in $600,000 in sales, a three-fold increase since the last "Shark Tank" update in early 2015. The company now has seven full-time employees in addition to Bridges and Morris, and the company's ties are hand-made in Memphis.
Morris said that at this point she and Bridges are working on acquiring more licensing deals on the scale of its collaboration with the NBA, as well as developing Bridges as a business leader.
Bridges gave his first speech back in 2011, but in the past year has gone on a full-blown public speaking circuit, focusing on inspiring other kids to become entrepreneurs. He's given speeches around the US and gave his first speech abroad last year, in Germany. He has one in Spain coming up in September.
And, inspired by what John taught him about giving back, he's developed a philanthropic side to Mo's Bows. Each year he creates a bow tie where all proceeds go toward a charity, and he and Morris recently finalized a deal with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.
Bridges is planning on having a complete fashion line by the time he's 20 years old, and wants to attend the Parsons School of Design in New York City. He's already begun adding new clothing and apparel to Mo's Bows, including neck ties, pocket squares, T-shirts, and hats.
His goal is to follow the path of his mentor Daymond John. Bridges said that he keeps in mind John's advice to be humble, but he also has a healthy level of confidence that he'll be able to make his vision a reality. "I just want to be powerful in the fashion industry, and I want to create clothes that aren't typical," he said.