About three weeks ago, I did the craziest thing I could have ever imagined: I launched a company. However, it wasn’t the company that made me so scared, rather it was the idea of sharing my story with so many of you guys. Never had I ever imagined putting all of myself out there for the public to see. I didn’t think it would matter. I didn’t think anyone would care. I didn’t think I would even get a sale…but damn..I was wrong. I was really, really wrong. The response was crazy! I received so many texts, calls, DMs, comments, and even a letter. (I didn’t think people still sent those…)
But I wanted to take this opportunity to give the full disclosure. I wanted to let the cat out of the bag; tell everyone who has supported me, the truth. So here it goes..hope you enjoy.
“IT ALMOST DIDN’T EVEN HAPPEN”
Yes, you read that right. I know thehidden isn’t anything (as of yet…), but the entire idea was so close to being just another page in my notebook. For those who may not know what thehidden is, it’s a clothing line dedicated to reminding the masses that it is okay to be different and to just welcome being you. I believed, from the very start of this journey, that one must not hide a part of who they are in order to fit in. That is what thehidden means; it’s a play on words, and design, to say that we will never be hidden again. (Now back to the story!)
In early December, I had produced 10 hoodies and I quickly sold them to friends and family. I was hyped! I was ready to conquer the world! I had such a strong belief in my own ability to build something out of nothing. But then..the unthinkable happened. I lost someone close to me; someone who I loved and someone who I trusted with almost anything. I fell into a deep sense of despair: I stopped eating, I stopped talking to anyone, I stopped working on thehidden, and out of everything I stopped being Wes.
My parents, and those who are close to me, feared for the worse. And to be honest, I did too. It was during that dark time, where I lost my sense of self. I lost sight of who I was and what I wanted to achieve. However, I came across an interesting quote. It read:
“Never Place A Period Where Only A Comma Is Needed.”
Although this is true in writing, I also believe it is true in life. Just because I went through this loss, didn’t mean my life was over. In fact, my life was just beginning. It was when I realized this that I decided I needed to move forward. It was in that very moment, of being down and in despair, that I decided to pick myself back up and make something out of this situation. Although thehidden was never based on this situation, I credit what happened to me as fuel into pushing me to make thehidden real.
From that point on, I knew I had to use thehidden as a way to help heal me from what I experienced. In order to make it as successful as possible, I knew I had to be as vulnerable as possible. I had to tell my story; the story no one ever knew and the story I never told. And now, I’m proud to say that I have shared that story.. or I’ve started to.
“…My Story on full display”
I’d like to think that it all started in middle school. I grew up in the suburb of Sharon, Massachusetts, being one of the few people of color in my school. This identity came with its perks as well as it’s curses (which I still try to cope with now.) It was interesting growing up in a classroom, being the only person of color in the room. It was interesting going to school with kids who were rich and had pool parties at the end of every school year. It was interesting going to parties, attended by celebrities and NFL Hall Of Famers.
It was also very interesting living in a space where I literally felt like an outsider, every day I went to school. I only felt this way because it seemed like, as a person of color, I was too black for the white kids and too white for the black kids. Therefore, I often asked myself: “where do I belong?” To make matters worse, around the age of 12, I was formally diagnosed with Vitiligo.Vitiligo is a skin disorder which causes a loss of pigmentation in the skin. For context, think of Michael Jackson.
Of course, in middle school and at the dawn of bullying, I was called every name in the book once people began to notice. From “leopard boy” to “Michael Jackson” and everything in between, the skin condition made my life a living hell. It became a physical marker that identified me as different. Not only was I a black boy in a white school, but now I was a boy with white dots on his hands and feet.
I remember walking into school every day, keeping my hands in my pocket. I would never shake anyone’s hand and if someone went for a hand sake, I would only offer my fist as a response. I felt like this was the first instance of me hiding a part of who I was just to fit in. And looking back, that was probably the biggest mistake I’ve made in my life so far. (more on that later..) But it was in these early years, where I truly felt different from the rest of the pack.
Fast forward 8 years later, I’ve decided to put my story on full display. I’ve come to terms with my imperfections and what makes me different. I’ve come to terms with what makes me…me. And I only wish the same for you.
I’ve learned we should not hide what makes us different, in order to fit in. Instead we must embrace those differences and be our true selves un-apologetically. That is what matters. So, on that note, I launched a company. I don’t define it as “street wear” or fashion, but I define it as a brand that stands for the individual in all of us. So thank you for reading this..I truly can’t thank you all enough for your endless and continual support. If you feel so inclined, feel free to pick a hoodie up at my site!