At 21 years old, Khalil Whitaker and his business partner are already entrepreneurs. They started a business in East Oakland — it’s official name is O.A.K. A Town Business, but Whitaker explains, “Oak Boys is our nickname.”
And that’s what most people call the local clothing company that sells shirts with the nickname scrawled across the front, “OAKLAND BOOTY” shorts and a stark black hat that says simply “FUNERALS AINT NO FUN,” among other products.
If it sounds like Whitaker and his partner are targeting a small local niche, that isn’t necessarily their goal. They aren’t techies, but they want those tech dollars. They make their shirts appeal to hipsters.
The business started out of Whitaker’s car.
“Just doing it out the trunk on Instagram and popping up places and getting it off,” says Whitaker.
Today, Oak Boys has a kiosk inside Bayfair Mall in San Leandro. When they started, they barely had enough money to buy supplies. Now, their graphic T-shirts, sweats and shorts have blown up.
“You want it to keep up with all of their Nautica, Po lo, Burberry, you know, and it’s just a graphic tee,” says Whitaker. “You want it to feel not like your other typical graphic tees.”