The next time area residents see an eye-catching shirt in town, they can’t presume it came from London or Paris as it may actually be the product of one of Bowie’s own fashionistas.
Wesley Woods, a 19-year-old graduate of Bowie High School, has launched his own fashion label of stylized T-shirts called Original Crackage.
The name of the label refers to originality in the lines and designs of his T-shirt while “crackage” refers to a common euphemism of saying a good-looking outfit is “crack,” Woods said.
The resident of the 8100 block of Chestnut Avenue had been interested in fashion and design for years, said his mother, Marie Woods.
“When he was in high school he would go to boutique stores and wear things he found to school,” Woods, 51, said.
In high school and in college at the North Carolina Central State University, where he is a rising junior, Woods said he would decorate folders and pages with doodles and designs.
In a college algebra class, it struck him that he would like to wear one of the designs he created.
After creating a mock-up design of the shirt in Adobe Illustrator CS5, the teen paid $50 to have a shirt production company he found online make his doodle a reality.
“It came out exactly as I thought it would,” Wesley Woods said.
Clean black and white designs were originally his preference, however friends and admirers of his shirts told him they would look good with a splash of color, he said.
“I really like striped lines in fashion,” he said. “It’s simple and its catchy.”
Woods doesn’t worry about running out of ideas, he said.
“Going on I could make probably thousands of shirts and it would never get old,” said Woods, who is majoring in textiles and apparel with a minor in business management.
On break from college, he is working for Bowie’s Park and Ground Division where he mows grass and performs other maintenance work.
In the evening, while listening to rap music or watching a movie, he pursues his passion drafting new shirt designs.
“If he didn’t have to be up to work at 6:30 a.m. he would be up half the night,” said Marie Woods.
Since the initial shirt, he has had two production runs of shirts, which have produced more than 30 shirts. He sold the bulk of those shirts to friends at college for about $20 to $25 a shirt.
Creating the shirts hasn’t been inexpensive. So far crafting the shirts has cost nearly $1,000, which the teen has paid for with loans from his parents.
Woods is now looking for funding from various sources, including attending a fashion trade show in February in Las Vegas, and pursuing local sources of money such as the Prince George’s County’s Economic Development Incentive Fund, a $50 million fund aimed to help established businesses grow or draw existing businesses to the area.
“My attitude is to tell everybody who is interested to apply,” said Angela Wright, a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Corp., which administers the fund for the county. “We have a number of resources to help a business to grow even if this fund isn’t for him.”
While writing a business plan, working to get the name of the fashion label copyrighted and working to launch a company website hasn’t been quite as fun as designing shirts, Woods said the effort is worth it.
“I want to enjoy my life, I want to do something I enjoy,” he said.
Woods will often turn down opportunities to play with friends to focus on his work, said Reggie Staton, 19, who has known Wesley Woods for 10 years.
Ultimately Woods would like to see his brand grow beyond just being available online.
“I want to take it from here to the West Coast and then from there to Europe and who knows where,” he said.