Total loan: $10,000


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Oakland, CA, United States / Clothing

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A loan helped secure a brick and mortar location in East Oakland to sell my t-shirts and continue to cover production costs for my original Oakland designs.

James's story

James Copes was born in the early 1950s' in East Oakland and lived in West Oakland throughout his early years. His father graduated from the University of Berkeley in 1949 and worked for the Government for 30 years. His mother worked as a nurse at Kaiser Permanente. James knew from his formative years that entrepreneurship was his key to life's treasures and would run errands and mow lawns. As a teenager, he became a tennis instructor for adults and youth in the Bay Area. James met the famous tennis professional Arthur Ashe in 1968 and this changed his life. Arthur saw his potential and sponsored him to be trained by the famous South African tennis instructor Dennis Van De Meer at the Berkeley Tennis Club. James was inspired to print Arthur's picture and signature on a t-shirt. This attracted potential customers to him. During this time, James would buy antiques, collectibles, and garage sale items to re-sell at the Ashby Bart station flea market. A few years later, some of James students needed workout t-shirts and being a fiery entrepreneur, James bought into the idea and made them some good quality t-shirts. In 1972, he opened his first t-shirt business. By 1981, Old School Copes had become one of the most popular retail operations in Oakland and has since then remained a formidable brand.