“Today I’m making a Vikings bow tie,” mused Aniki Allen.
The 10-year-old St. Paul boy then told me the process of making a bow tie with Legos. “First step,” he said. “What does the color look like? Who is it for? That’s what I do. When I [create] bow ties I do something I cherish.”
Aniki wants to go big with the bow ties by securing a licensing arrangement from Lego. Until then, most of his $25 Ice Cream Bow Ties creations are being donated to charities.
On Nov. 11 from 5 to 8 p.m., Aniki is holding an exhibit at St. Paul’s In Progress, a studio that nurtures young artists. Admission is $5.
“I looked around on the internet and I don’t think there has been a bow tie exhibit here before now,” said his mom, known in the social media world as Marsha Magdalene. Aniki’s dad is Mac Allen.
Marsha said she comes from a long line of entrepreneurs, and Aniki is receiving encouragement.
“Aniki has one mentor, James Badue-El, who is co-chair of the Prison Reform Committee at the Minneapolis NAACP. And, of course, Richard Moody, who shows Aniki so much love and support.” Moody is the Delta Air Lines international flights cabin manager and a community supporter of causes for young people.
“The reason why I help Aniki is that we have to create our own opportunities,” said Marsha Magdalene. “When I say ‘we’ — I am Hmong and Aniki’s dad is black — I’m talking about people of color.”
Aniki surprised his mom during our interview with his plan to pay for Legos for other kids. After going to Harvard, Aniki is going to use part of his salary as an NBA player. “Uhh,” said Marsha, “That means he can get up and exercise with me at 5 [a.m.]”
Q: How did you come up with the idea to make a bow tie out of Legos?
A: I started really young. One time my mom and my dad and other family members bought me Legos. When I played with my first Lego set, I don’t remember it but probably like “Star Wars.” I played with Legos and they just helped me focus. Two years ago I made this happen. This is the first one I ever made.
Q: Why did you do this?
A: The reason was my mom, my dad, a lot of the people I know like fashion and bow ties; I like Legos. [He cracked his knuckles to the distress of the interviewer.]
Q: Oh you’re going to kill me cracking your knuckles.
A: Sorry. [Smile]
Q: Now you’re cracking them under the table.
A: OK, I won’t do it.
Q: So you decided to combine Legos with fashion?
A: Yeah, it just looks nice. There’s not like a lot of stuff you can do with Legos and fashion. A Legos shirt probably won’t turn out well because it would just break. But a bow tie like this will make you stand out because it’s real simple. There are four pieces for a simple one; 20 or 30 pieces for this.
Q: How do you attach it to the collar of your shirt?
A: Right here. There’s like this bendable thing … yeah, elastic. Me and my mom [who sews a clasp to the elastic] do the business. If I get the business [going] and get more money, I’ll have other people join the business.
Q: Lego didn’t know you were going to make a bow tie out of this piece?
Q: Looks like you are holding a superhero bow tie there?
A: Yeah, it’s Superman. There’s the back, here’s the front. That’s how it starts. I really wanted to get Legos like this so I can sell it to companies, sell the pieces international[ly] to people. Let me get back to the Vikings [bow tie].
Q: What is your goal?
A: My goal is to be an NBA player and accomplish this and do other dreams and stuff. My goal is to get a license from Lego and to make a business place for kids, any type of kids, it doesn’t matter to me; kids can come in and it’ll be free for the kids to build their own bow ties and see what they can do. At the end of the day I’m going to, like, tell them my motivational story AND let them know they can build anything.
Q: You want to be an NBA player. So are you a good basketball player now?
A: [Nods yes] Have you got anything else to say?
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.