Self-expression is relative, with many ways to be defined and projected. Some choose fashion as their expressive outlet, showing off a bit of their personality with a simple shirt or hat. But three students recently took that to another level, launching Creative Mess, a clothing line of this artistic and minimalistic expression.
Last year, current McCormick sophomore Avery Fisher decided to start his own clothing line, Creative Mess. Weinberg sophomore Daniel Jin and and Weinberg junior Shiven Samant became involved later, and together they formed the clothing line of abstract t-shirts that targets young people. The line’s brand focuses on self-expression with a twist of artsy and disparate creative design.
“The brand is about being comfortable in a place where you don’t really know what you want to do,” Fisher said. “It’s being comfortable in a creative place where you have a lot of different ideas and ambitions, and I think a lot of people who have talked to us can vibe with that and feel like they’re at that point.”
The brand’s main audience is males ages 16 to 23. Fisher described their overall style as refined, minimalistic street wear, adding that they hope to eventually expand to other types of shirts such as flannels, sweatshirts and hockey jerseys.
“The shirts aren’t over-designed or too loud,” Fisher said. “You want to have one thing that draws your eye; you don’t want to have too much noise on the shirt. I think that’s something people really appreciate.”
Many of their customers have been college students so far, and Fisher feels that its partly because they can identify with this creative and flexible mindset. The group sold a lot of inventory to people they know, but they were especially excited when their sales expanded beyond their peers and NU students.
Attracted to its distinctive designs, McCormick sophomore Philip Meyers IV bought a couple shirts from Creative Mess, one of which has a photograph of Albert Einstein wearing a red bucket hat and the word “finesse” beneath it.
“I think the Einstein one is a little bit quirky and a little weird. It doesn’t make much sense really but it’s funny,” Meyers said. “I definitely appreciate clothing that’s a little more interesting or unique that people don’t know where to get it.”
Fisher got the t-shirt idea while listening to the song “Finesse” by Lucki Eck$.
As a kid Fisher often drew shoe designs, marking his initial interest in creative fashion. Although he never followed fashion designers or watched runway shows, he viewed clothing as a creative outlet.
Fisher started working on the clothing line individually during his freshman year, teaching himself to operate Photoshop and Illustrator for the designs. He started out with 40 or 50 t-shirt designs on his computer and later he and Jin limited them down to five. Instead of simply choosing their favorites, they noted how the shirt designs complemented one another, constructing the Creative Mess brand.
Even though Creative Mess only currently sells five designs, the process of keeping the company organized with only three people requires a lot of time and effort. They generally spend anywhere from four to 30 hours each week on the company. Although all three of them work on all of it together, Fisher designs the t-shirts while Samant and Jin focus more on the business development side.
When starting out, they had to decide how much inventory to order by estimating their sales, but now customers place shirt orders individually. They had to put down around $500 to get started, which paid for their original shirts and their website.
The Creative Mess website is not only a place for customers to place orders but includes other elements that fit with its brand. Mainly organized by Samant, it features interviews of young people working in their own creative outlets, including Communication sophomore Cameron Smith, also known as the aspiring rapper “Freddy Mummix.”
“We want it to become more than just a clothing brand, like a hub for people to check out other cool things – a place where you’d want to be featured as trendy,” Samant said. “It’s all about featuring different people doing their thing. And the brand is about embracing all these cool things going on around you.”
Jin said they aren’t after riches or fame. To them, Creative Mess is a project where they can share their creative brand and connect with people through artistic expression. He stressed transparency and relatability to their customers as key to their unique business style.
“We don’t want to be marginalized as just a clothing company. We want to be more of a movement,” Jin said. “We’re a lot more than a clothing company. We have a blog. We have artwork. I realized that when starting a clothing company you can take it whatever direction you want. We make it more than just a clothing company; we make it a brand.”