Truman Wilson photographed by Mindy Byrd
The Truman Factory sells buttons, stickers and T-shirts with the logo.
Some kids have lemonade stands. Others, such as 12-year-old Truman Wilson, take childhood capitalism to the next level, launching their own lifestyle brand complete with “merch” such as T-shirts, stickers, and buttons; a social-media marketing strategy; and namesake chocolate bar.
The son of Dallas art collectors Christen and Derek Wilson, Truman had the idea to start his own company two years ago. The result is The Truman Factory, which is billed as a company “built by kids for kids… focused on what kids love most — gaming, YouTube, tech, collecting, and candy.”
For a meeting with the entrepreneur and his dad — Truman termed it his first media meeting — the precocious tyke arrives with his blond hair swooped into a cool faux-hawk, part of his signature look: thick black-frame glasses, limited edition Nikes, and a Truman Factory tee emblazoned with the company’s logo, a cartoon version of Truman himself, giving a big thumbs up.
His dad is a successful entrepreneur himself.
“When I was a kid,” Derek recalls, “my dad was super into sports, so that’s what he taught me.”
Derek has therefore taught Truman the ins-and-outs of startup culture. It isn’t just father-son bonding; this is real business, from sourcing cost-effective T-shirt vendors and screen-printers to hiring a web developer; taste testing and lab visits to create the best chocolate bar; and securing local retailers to sell everything.
All of the products can be purchased at thetrumanfactory.com, and this month, Royal Blue Grocery begins selling the newly launched Truman Bars.
It’s more than just a chocolate bar, Truman says. “It’s like Willy Wonka.” Each contains a golden-ticket voucher with a code. Some codes, when redeemed online, offer prizes: drones, video games, Truman Factory merch, and other things decidedly awesome for the younger-than-millennial generation.
Creating a buzz for chocolate bars through social media (Instagram only, says Truman, as none of his friends even look at Facebook) isn’t his only on-point business move. He gravitates toward the conscious capitalism that has defined much of the millennial entrepreneur scene.
“Truman was always really concerned about homeless kids,” Derek says. “He always wanted to help them.”
When setting up his business plan, Truman ensured a portion of profits would be donated to Vogel Alcove, a Dallas-based nonprofit that provides childcare for homeless children.
After chatting with the shy yet clearly thoughtful and intelligent Truman Wilson, it’s clear that The Truman Factory is something he takes seriously. Sure, for fun he likes to fly drones in the park, play video games, and score the newest, neatest pair of sneakers at Foot Locker. But when asked what he wants to do when he grows up, he is direct and suddenly not so childlike.
“I want to own my own company,” he says. Spoken like a true man.