Kelechi Ezeani is a sophomore at the University of Houston studying kinesiology with aspirations of attending physical therapy school and becoming a DPT, Doctor of Physical Therapy. While balancing a full-time academic schedule Ezeani is also the CEO of 4kthebrand, a clothing line catered to street wear. How does he manage it all?
Why did you want to start your own business?
“Although the University of Houston is among the most diverse universities in the nation, my motivation behind starting 4kthebrand is because I wanted to help build the culture of the campus even more so by developing a brand that would start [at the University of Houston] and then reach the world” says Ezeani.
What are your plans for 4kthebrand?
“I want to see ‘4k’ reach the world. It has already expanded beyond Texas but I would like to see a consistent outreach and even further expansion. We are starting to use ‘4k’ not just as a brand but also a culture, a way of life. Just recently I was able to reach out to one of the local elementary schools in the third ward who gave me the opportunity to design shirts for their upcoming STAAR tests (series of standardized test). Seeing other people wear my designs warms my heart” says Ezeani.
How do you manage being a pre-physical therapy student and being a CEO?
“It is very difficult at times but I personally like to stay organized. Organization is key when ever you are trying to juggle two different schedules. I try to start my week with a plan and I’ll create a layout for each day with specific tasks. I have to look at numbers, sales, stock, go to meetings and etc. It’s also about being in the right location at the right time. I spend a lot of time in the library so that I can have access to a computer and I am able to layout everything for school and the brand on the table all at once and for whatever reason that helps me” says Ezeani.
Like many other graduate programs there are certain qualifications that you must meet as an applicant to even be considered for admission into a physical therapy program, such as grades and clinical experience for example. From an outsiders’ perspective the road to the end seems to be quite rigorous. “With acceptance rates at many physical therapy schools hovering around 16%, it’s clear that gaining acceptance to PT school can be tough.” Brett Sears’, PT, article goes into detail about how to improve someone’s chances of getting into PT school. These statistics can either be discouraging or used as motivation to work hard. I can only imagine how difficult it can be for Ezeani to ensure that he is staying on top of all of the prerequisites for PT admissions and stabilizing a business simultaneously.
Esmeralda Torres, Star Therapy at Cinco Ranch receptionist says, “What this young man is doing is impressive. He is juggling a lot of things on his plate. He is managing a new business and I get to see first-hand how this field is competitive, so I can only imagine how overwhelming all of that is. Again, that’s very impressive that he can handle it all.”
The doctors of the Star Therapy office were busy at the time of my phone interview with Torres but that is a prime example that even once you become a physical therapist, there is still a high demand for your time. In the pursuit of this career and 4kthebrand, it is evident that Ezeani’s life will always require a balance. What or who will be his motivation to keep going?
Currently, who keeps you motivated?
“My business partners and brand ambassadors definitely keep me motivated. I can’t run ‘4k’ alone. The first step to choosing my ambassadors were selecting students who believed in me. I then interviewed them and checked their social media accounts. It was important for me to initially choose other University of Houston students when we first launched because it gives consumers that sense of culture that I mentioned. I wanted everyone to see other students walking around with this gear and ask questions. These individuals work hard and represent the brand very well. I am grateful for each of them” says Ezeani.
4kthebrand ambassador and junior public health major at the University of Houston, Ja’Corrian Smith says, “being a brand ambassador for ‘4k’ has been an inspiration for myself because I am trying to start my own clothing line. I have seen Kel’s brand come from nothing to being advertised on many different platforms. He helps us all shine. He’s genuine and gives the people what they want.”