Club Sweetness — 2017 UP/Start Finalist

Brittney Dori Wilson ’16 was just finishing a master’s degree in paralegal studies at George Washington University and working for the federal government when something Abbi Jacobson ’06 was wearing in “Broad City” caught her eye — a sweatshirt emblazoned with Maryland Institute College of Art. That shirt brought Wilson to the College’s website for the first time, where she discovered the M.P.S. in the Business of Art and Design (BAD).

Wanting an outlet for her creative interest in clothing design, she decided to apply to the program, which gives graduates skills to grow or sustain arts-related businesses. Ultimately, “the program helped by actually showing me that you can make a living by doing something you’re passionate about,” she said.

Maybe it was just coincidence a sweatshirt is what brought Wilson to MICA, but it is the statement clothing can make that inspires her. “Streetwear is about expressing yourself,” said Wilson, who is launching lifestyle and clothing brand Club Sweetness, which is all about finding a “positive way to express yourself, for girls that want to be sporty and fun.”

Growing up in the South, Wilson was expected to follow the traditional rules of dress — read: no white after Labor Day — but she always felt the need to slip in a personal statement. “I would write on my sneakers and draw freckles on my face,” she said. “It was my way of expression.”

Wanting to offer young women a way to do the same, she has created the Club Sweetness clothing line as “a fun and safe place for people to be themselves.”

MICA’s BAD program helped inspire her to pursue her love for clothing design in a practical way. Through classes on accounting, marketing and business management, “the program gave me a real-life crash course in how to create a creative business,” she said.

Wilson, along with her partner in life and work, Isaac de Jesus Rodrigues, hopes to launch a full line in the spring titled “Sweetwear” that includes jerseys and hats. Funding from the Up/Start program would help the team find a manufacturer to turn their prototype designs into a reality.

“Our ultimate business goals are to have a streetwear line that people love,” she said. “A true and authentic brand that people love and want to wear.”