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Meet Rakan Alqadi: The Annandale senior and entrepreneur behind the apparel line Eternal Love

By Shane Gomez and Emily Hawkins

Youthcast Media Group®

Walking the halls of Annandale High School, if you look closely, odds are you’ll notice many students wearing the same clothing brand. It’s not Nike, or Adidas, or Champion. It is, instead, apparel from a student-created company.

The logo is a halo and angel wings above curvy bubble letters that spell out the brand’s name: Eternal Love.

Students at Annandale High love and constantly wear fashion from Eternal Love, a fashion brand started by a fellow classmate and student. (Photo courtesy of Shane Gomez and Emily Hawkins)

The apparel is popular at Annandale (and neighboring schools in the Virginia suburbs of Washington) despite being virtually unknown outside the metro area. This is thanks to Rakan Alqadi, the creative lead behind the brand.

The 18-year-old Annandale senior opened Eternal Love six months ago. He opened his other business, a shoe-reselling company called Raccoon Kickz, when he was 14.

“I always wanted to have something of my own where I can build it from the ground up,” Alqadi says. “I also wanted to put a challenge on myself when I was young to prepare myself for the future.”

Student entrepreneurs are increasingly common these days. It is a result of living in the era of social media combined with a trend toward supporting local businesses. Other Annandale students have found self-employment success through making jewelry, crocheting, and working as eyelash technicians.

According to a December 2021 survey by Junior Achievement USA, 60% of American teens would rather start their own businesses than have a traditional job. Generation Z is the nation’s most entrepreneurial generation, according to a 2019 joint study by WP Engine and The Center for Generational Kinetics. It found that 60 percent of Gen Z members in the study said that they have started their own businesses, or plan to. This compares to 50% of Millennials, 35% of Gen X, and 23% of Boomers.

Alqadi personifies the trend. He declines to say how much money he makes, but does say he was able to buy two cars at age 17 — and now, at 18, supports himself fully financially.

“When I hit the age of 16 I was able to start driving and I often needed a way to get around when my parents were busy so I ended up purchasing my first car which was a BMW. I was able to drive it around for a year, but I got tired of it so I got rid of it and was able to purchase a newer car, a Mercedes,” Alqadi says.

He was 14 when he found that he loved shoes. He would often watch YouTube videos about shoe collectors who resold shoes. This piqued his interest in doing it himself, so he studied the videos and opened Raccoon Kickz. His shoes sell only on Instagram, where he has more than 8,000 followers and has made more than 400 transactions.

Rakan shows off the several pairs of shoes he takes to shoe swaps and makes profits off of. (Photo courtesy of Raqan Alqadi)

Alqadi frequently goes to shoe swaps. “I will always come out with a profit whether it's a small or high amount of money,” he says. “I meet a bunch of new people every day and build great relationships for future business.”

Alqadi says he aims to make a 25-30% profit per shoe. “After I authenticate and purchase it I will clean them up and post them on my page, and if they sell I will either ship them to the customer or drop them off to their doorstep.”

A challenge unique to student entrepreneurship is maintaining a balance between business and school, including extracurricular activities. Alqadi makes it work. He played track and football all four years of high school. He also goes to the gym and hangs out with friends, like a typical teen.

“An average day for me is waking up, getting ready for school, getting all my work done. After school I go to sport practice whether it’s track or football,” Alqadi says. “I go home after practice, eat and hang out with my family and finish all my business stuff like packing orders and answering emails and DMs. After I get everything done I go to the gym and workout.”

Managing money is another challenge for young entrepreneurs. Alqadi seems to have figured it out.

“I usually put my money in multiple categories, which would be for savings, for fun & business and each are separated in percentages,” he says.

Alqadi named Eternal Love to contrast it from other brands. “I’d often see a lot of hating, or violence on people’s clothing brands,” he says. “And I wanted to do the opposite and show love.”

Rakan Alqadi is the CEO of Eternal Love, a fashion brand that has taken off in the halls of Annandale High School. (Photo courtesy of Shane Gomez and Emily Hawkins)

As for his creative process, Alqadi starts off by thinking about different ideas for what could go on shirts, hoodies, pants, and other apparel. Then, for hours, he draws his ideas. He shows his designs to friends for feedback. Finally, he pays artists to draw his designs digitally.

By now Eternal Love is a symbol of Annandale High School. It’s common to see students repping the brand in the hallways and on social media. “It makes me feel proud about what I’ve been doing,” Alqadi says. “And I’m hoping to get this more out in the world for more people to wear it.”

With two successful businesses, and lots of new skills gained along the way, the future looks bright for Alqadi, who plans on attending George Mason University in the fall.

“I’ve been able to build character for myself over the years and I’ve built a lot of great traits which help me a lot,” he says. “But the most important one to me is being able to make my family proud.”

Shane Gomez and Emily Hawkins are 11th grade students at Annandale High School in Annandale, Va. They wrote this story in collaboration with Youthcast Media Group’s team of mentoring journalists.


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