Sashalee King wants you to get back to that thing you were passionate about as a kid.
King is the founder and CEO of Lost Demo, a fledgling company that got its start at a workshop at the Bronx Native store in Mott Haven, which sells merchandise that embodies the culture of the unique borough.
Lost Demo now produces hand-designed mugs with uplifting messages that are marketed at the store.
“When we are young, we have so many goals, dreams, and aspirations, but life happens, and we tend to stray away from those dreams,” King said. “Lost Demo aims to encourage people to tap back into themselves and rediscover or discover their talents, gifts passions.”
The community has taken a liking to her products, and she’s seen her business grow overall. She credits Bronx Native co-founder Amaurys Grullon with inspiring her to launch her business – which then prompted her to jump start a career in teaching.
“Working with The Bronx Native really pushed me. I always wanted to have a line of products, but I never fulfilled that dream,” she said. “So when I heard about the opportunity, it pushed me to create my line of mugs and it motivated me.”
But King’s success is much more than a victory for a budding entrepreneur. It’s a testament to overcoming adversity. She credits the name of her business – Lost Demo King — to a time where she didn’t feel like she was her best self.
“There was a dark moment in my life where I too felt lost and forgot my purpose, but my core foundation was to help people, and since I wasn’t doing that, I was actually unhappy,” she said.
“If the thought of me not helping people could bring me so much confusion unhappiness, I had to ask myself what the opposite could do?”
Now that those days are behind her, the West Farms resident said her mission is to ensure that everyone she comes across re-evaluates their purpose, too.
Bronx Native is the exclusive outlet for her mugs – but it’s been way more to her than a sales outlet. She beams when discussing the most recent event she hosted at the shop – a workshop where she encouraged local residents to come and get started on their passion projects.
King hasn’t stopped at producing mugs. She is a certified elementary school teacher who is putting those talents to use teaching English to students online in China.
This coming fall, she will begin teaching students at a charter school in the Bronx. It’s a full-circle moment for King, who said that if she had the option to teach anywhere, it would be in the community that raised her.
“I’ve always wanted to be an elementary school teacher. I strayed away from that for years. I’ve held a plethora of positions in educational settings and Lost Demo gave me the courage to become get back to my passion in education as well,” she said.
Grullon said that artists and others looking for a similar opportunity can apply on the Bronx Native website. The store’s vendor partnership allows local entrepreneurs to sell their merchandise and also acts as an incubator helping them to grow as creatives.
Vendors are free to host their own events at the shop monthly, as well as promote their products on Bronx Native’s Instagram page. Events vendors have hosted include “paint and sips,” 90’s themed parties, and spoken word events.
“I’m so proud of Sashalee,” said Grullon. “The goal is for everyone who’s in partnership with us to not only benefit from their merchandise doing well, but we also want to help them grow and provide them with tools that have helped us evolve and become more successful.”
“We’ve evolved, and we now are a platform for other up and coming artists as well. The foundation is similar, but it’s grown into a much bigger movement that’s not just about our merchandise.”
His monthly events give local business owners a chance to gain knowledge on financial literacy, social media management, real estate, and generational wealth.
“Bronx native isn’t just about the Bronx,” Grullon added. “It’s about people of color and disenfranchised communities who need to know that they can express themselves by creating ecosystems within their communities.”
King hopes her mugs and their messages will inspire others to take the leap that Bronx Native offers.
“Amaurys’ energy is infectious,” she said.