Releasing a branded T-Shirt is like putting out a song and hoping it climbs to the top of the Billboard charts.
There is no chart per se in the design industry. But, had there been one, Kenrick Headley Jr and Cleteist Mathavious would have topped it repeatedly.
Over the 10 years that their T-Shirt Genius business has been in operation, the duo has created three of the hottest T-Shirt brands to have hit the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The brands – Hard Times, Cre8tive Arts, and BE.V.I – have captured the eyes and spirits of a wide cross section of the BVI. “The most successful of the three is BE.V.I,” Headley told BVI News Online.
That brand has been a standout since it was created in 2014, and it will not banish anytime soon. “The BE.V.I design has been a hit, and so we will be doing other souvenirs for it also. We will be coming up with BE.V.I packages for people who want to buy these items overseas, or people who just want to represent where they are from. We will also be selling our products online,” Headley disclosed.
He further stated that his three brands have been successful because people had become tired of the hackneyed types of T-Shirts usually sold locally.
“People were just getting tired of the Crafts Alive shirts with ‘Tortola’ and ‘Beautiful Virgin Islands’ on them,” Headley said.
“We started to do the brand called Hard Times; and that’s where we started to build a clientele. Then we came up with another one called Cre8tive Arts in about 2011/2012. Hard Times didn’t die out, but people started to ask for Cre8tive Arts.”
“I then came up with the BE.V.I idea when people started to ask for BVI products to send away to family abroad,” Headley explained. “The local community has been responding very very well,” he added.
The young artist disclosed that the release of each T-Shirt brand is strategic; the actual conceptualization of each brand is never a brain buster.
“It’s not hard. As an artist, you see a lot of stuff; your mind is all over the place putting something together,” Headley explained.
“I think I want to come up with a next brand; I am not sure as yet. But the brands we have in the street now can hold down the fort for a little while – especially the BE.V.I brand.”
Headley further stated that, although he dabbled in the Arts when he attended Elmore Stoutt High School, he had no clue he would have leapt headlong into the field. In fact, he wanted to become an engineer, working especially in the marine industry.
But the youngster fell on tough times. He ended up with a criminal record, and lost his Government job.
With only a few options remaining, Headley took up an offer previously made by Mathavious, who at the time was the sole owner of T-Shirt Genius.
Mathavious actually founded the design arts company when he returned from the United States in 2007.
“I came along and started to help him designing some of the graphics and stuff like that,” Headley told BVI News Online, adding that the company also designs signs and stickers for motor vehicles.
The young man, who has transformed from an apprentice to a genius in graphic arts, speaks highly of Mathavious. “We are still together after 10 years; we will always be together,” he said.
Headley further told BVI News Online that 10 years means a lot for the T-Shirt Genius family, who actually celebrated the milestone last week Thursday with a party at Tortola Pier Park.
“It feels good as a young entrepreneur, knowing I am among the few who are in a position to inspire young people who want to achieve,” he said, adding that he already has fulfilled two of his big goals.
Headley said he wanted to be married and to own a successful business. “Those were my goals, and I have fulfilled all those,” he declared.
But, according to him, success came with sacrifices. “I don’t mess with social media at all, because it takes away from the work time,” Headley further asserted.
He, in the meantime, thinks other young people can flourish in business locally, but they must be prepared to think outside the proverbial box.
“Don’t just say ‘T-Shirt Genius looks like it is doing good’ and start to put your art on T-Shirt too,” Headley advised. “The community is very very small; don’t just piggyback off other people. You have to find your niche; you have to look around and see how your art can fit into the community,” he further said.
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