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Not so sketchy business

Corey Kamenoff, 16, shows off one of his custom sneaker cases at his home in Baldwin Park. Behind him are T-shirts and other items he sells through his Web site, SketchyWhiteVan.com.

Corey Kamenoff, 16, shows off one of his custom sneaker cases at his home in Baldwin Park. Behind him are T-shirts and other items he sells through his Web site, SketchyWhiteVan.com.

Brittni Larson

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A local teen opened his own clothing store last summer. You can't reach it when strolling Park Avenue, there's no jingle at the door sounding new customers and there's no closing time. The store's address ends in .com, the front door is just a few clicks away and you can shop at 3 a.m. in your underwear.

"Well, here we are 24/7," the site says.

Corey Kamenoff, a 16-year-old Winter Park High School junior, started his Web site, SketchyWhiteVan.com, in August. The online store sells men's shirts, jackets and accessories aimed at teens, along with custom sneaker display cases Corey designed himself. But this isn't Corey's first leap into entrepreneurship. He started buying and selling rare Nike brand sneakers on EBay for a profit at age 14.

"I'd find the cheapest price, buy it, and then put it on the site and sell it for more," Corey said.

He did that until August, when he decided to expand his business to clothing. When he asked his parents for some money for start-up, his mom made him devise a business plan first. Two days later, he handed over his five-page plan.

"I was so impressed," mom Brenda Kamenoff said.

"When you see such passion, you see your child loves something, you want to feed it," dad Michael Kamenoff added.

But that's where the help from his parents stopped. Corey constructed his Web site, contacted the 11 brand vendors he sells, took photos of the products and put a marketing plan into effect all on his own. He completes the transactions and ships out the merchandise. He spends about 30 hours a week working on the site."I like the business experience I get from doing this," he said.Corey uses the Internet not only as his business location, but also as a marketing tool. SketchyWhiteVan.com is on Facebook and Twitter and he has a blog. He advertises on several fashion sites, including CultureShoq.com, which he blogs for. Right now he's trying to find the most successful marketing strategy. He's learned how to do all of this by using the Web.

"It changes things a lot; it's the perfect research tool," Corey said. "It's the most important way to get the word out about your business. It's a worldwide, international market, instead of just a local market."

And having international customers doesn't hurt. Corey once sold a pair of limited edition Nike sneakers to someone in Singapore for $550. He bought them for around $200. And while many high school kids' minds might directly go to what they're going buy for themselves with all that money, Corey is just looking ahead. When asked about how he feels about making that much cash, he's all business.

"It's good because then I can plan out what I'm going to do next with it," he said.

Sebastian Gonzalez, 17, a friend and a model for the clothes on the Web site, said he looks up to Corey.

"He's really ambitious with his business," Gonzalez said. "People always say they're going to do stuff, but he really does it. It makes me want to be more ambitious and do better in my area."

Corey said he's doing all this for his future. His goal is to open a "brick and mortar" Sketchy White Van store eventually, and he's going to New York in May to meet with a store there that wants to sell his sneaker cases. He plans to major in business in college, and thinks his experience will help him there. And at 16, he's already planning his retirement.

"I like having a head start," he said. "If I can start now, I can finish early."