By: Lawanda Johnson
Web Content Manager
Meet Baltimore-based entrepreneur Kalilah Wright, owner of Mess In A Bottle, a T-shirt company that serves as a way to visually give a voice to the voiceless through its thought-provoking graphic apparel. Wright has not only depicted black excellence at its finest, successfully working her way up in the entrepreneurial world, but she has also crafted an unorthodox movement, unapologetically utilizing her platform to promote expressive and powerful messages for any race, any age, and any gender. Wright is certainly a woman on the move, making the most noise even while moving in silence. Through Mess In A Bottle, she sets out to provide an outlet that allows individuals to be as transparent and eloquent as they can be, advocating self-comfortability and self-liberation.
Who’s the woman behind the bottle, though? As an individual? When the T-shirts are folded up and put away? Well, she’s a Brooklyn-bred winner, a dreamer, a doer, a creative. Wright is a woman who turned her can’ts into cans and dreams into plans. As an adolescent, she already embodied the characteristics of a leader. Even at the tender age of twelve years old, Wright started her first business in the school yard of her junior high school, Philippa Schuyler, located in Brooklyn, New York. She named it ‘Cool Club’, which she charged members .35 cents a week to be a part of. However, little did she know, that was only the beginning. She didn’t know that would eventually lay the foundation for her becoming the boss of her very own black-owned business.
After attaining a Bachelor of Arts from Pennsylvania State University and a Master of Architecture from Morgan State University, Wright worked as a full-time architecture and designer. However, she figured that it was time to really think outside of the box and wield her talents in more than one area of life. Though she’d started small businesses, here and there, previously, Wright was sure that, this time around, whatever she did, she wanted to do something bold, something empowering, something that made a difference. Her love for the creative arts, architecture, and design was undying, along with educating other millennials and putting her leadership skills to use.
In February of 2016, Mess In A Bottle was born. With just less than $500.00, Wright started something that would soon become the newest holy grail. But, to say that it happened overnight would be far from the truth. She actually started out with just a couple of T-shirt making machines that she’d purchased from Craigslist.
“I bought a couple machines from Craigslist, one is a heat press machine and the other one is a vinyl cutter. I outsource my designs so I design all my T-shirts in-house, and then I have a company that prints the designs and we basically print on demand. So, whenever someone orders a T-shirt, I then print it, package it and send them out.” Wright said in an interview with ThisMamaWines.com.
As you can see, a lot of hard work, dedication, persistence, and perseverance went into making Mess In A Bottle what it is today and what she hopes it to be in the future. Wright admits that her busy days are endless, but, at the end of the day, when she looks at the possibility of even more people being inspired, it is all worth it.
“I look forward to growing my business. By the time the year is over, I hope to have already proved the concepts of Mess In A Bottle. I look forward to more people wearing the brand and Mess In A Bottle really blossoming. I just look forward to growing. I want it to be a thing that everyone is coming to Mess In A Bottle for a message and to be able to be outspoken and say what they want.”
Wright wanted to take T-shirt designing to another level, and, from the looks of it, she has definitely succeeded. The brand gains its uniqueness and name from its witty and candid messages and sayings that are printed on T-shirts and packaged into reusable bottles. However, though the tees are the basis of the brand, their products range from mugs and hats to tote bags and throw pillows.
Mess In A Bottle has not only garnered great notoriety within the Baltimore area, but also throughout social media. The brand has brought in over 12,000 followers on Instagram, garnering loads of digital traffic on a daily basis. More recently, one of the shirts were actually seen on this year’s BET Awards red carpet.
But, of course, with her good deal of success comes criticism. However, Wright chooses to look past the negativity, as she contributes her tough skin to her Brooklyn, New York upbringing. When it’s all said and done, Wright just wants to be remembered for the positive.
“I want my legacy to be this black woman that was a creator, that kicked ass and took names after. I want to be known as a person that really did what she wanted without caring about what anybody had to say. The naysayers or the people who just didn’t believe. I do what I want, whether it is something that turns out great or if it is something that I failed at. I want to be known as a person that just tries, whether it’s a success or failure. I know that I tried.” She says.
Though being the CEO of a thriving T-shirt company is certainly a milestone for Wright, her greatest achievement is holding the title of a mother to her son. As a mompreneur and business owner, Wright doesn’t deny that it does get challenging; however, she has learned that it is possible to balance both and is diligently working to keep finding that medium.
“I may not have days at the park with my son, right now, like I would like, but, we have a lot more opportunities that I would like to do with him that will be more important down the line. I think, for me, with my son, I did not have to choose because I already decided the things I’m chasing with my business will be beneficial in my son’s life.”
Kalilah Wright is standing up and standing out, one MESSage in a bottle at a time.
Photo Credit: Shae McCoy