What started as a class project for a student at the University of Victoria has now become a growing business.
Nelson Walusimbi launched his 21 Street Club brand last fall, collaborating with university art and fashion design students to create limited-run streetwear like t-shirts and hoodies.
The company’s philosophy is that fashion should be based on individualism and self-expression, rather than focusing solely on current trends.
The company’s make-to-order model reduces waste, produces a lower carbon footprint, and benefits artists financially and through exposure of their work.
“There are really a lot of talented kids doing art and design and we would like to show their work as much as possible and that they also earn through their work,” says Walusimbi.
The UVic student is pursuing a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and came up with the idea for his marketing course after talking to artist friends from college who not only struggled to get their art known , but also financial difficulties. while he was still in school.
“I’ve always been interested in art and fashion – comfortable fashion – especially clothes that make you feel good and comfortable, and being able to combine those two things is really rewarding for me,” says- he.
Every piece of clothing featured on the 21 Street Club website comes with an artist profile and a statement about what the piece represents. The works are featured for 21 days on the website before being exchanged for another street fashion piece.
“We will take their work, print it on fashion items, market it and ship it to anyone who buys it and they will make 50% of the profit from their work,” says Walusimbi.
Walusimbi currently only works with university art and design students from across Canada and has had several hundred sales to date, with demand growing.
He hopes to expand his business through an online fundraising campaign in the near future so he can collaborate with more student artists and grow the business.