Bricks Without Straw
Dupont City, 33
Jamie Summers-Brown credits his late grandfather Frank Brown as a key figure in how he approaches both his business — Bricks Without Straw Enterprises, a web development and graphic design company — and his life.
Summers-Brown was just 14 when Brown died. His grandfather's early life had been filled with struggle, he said. As an infant, he'd been given away along with a twin sister and three other preschool siblings, but went on to serve his country during World War II while still a teenager.
After working with a number of charities, Summers-Brown realized there were many other worthy groups with needs he'd likely never know about. So that he could provide more direct help, Summers-Brown forged the Frank Brown Community Partnership. Now charitable groups can apply for help with their brands, marketing and websites.
Summers-Brown's career path began when he was still in high school.
"Trial and error" was his watchword back then, and even today, he continues to learn largely through his own research and by extensive reading.
"I don't miss those days at all. I'm pretty nostalgic but not for those days.
He finds his work rewarding.
Summers-Brown also is a Japanophile. He traces his interest to age 9 and began studying the Japanese language in his early 20s. He's also spent extended periods in Tokyo as well as the northern Japanese region devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of 2011 and is planning return trips in 2015 and '16.
"The culture and the technology just captivated me," Summers-Brown remembers. "When I'm in Japan, I really enjoy interacting with the people. They're very friendly. It's very structured and very, very clean."
His time in Japan has even paid off on the job. "Their work ethic inspired me," he said. "I've crafted many parts of my own company based on ideas I came across in Japan."