“A Heart for Orange Mound ”
“I’m a Memphis native, actually started my career by working at Fed-Ex kinkos, and let’s not forget my passion for art,” said Kelvin, who now runs a T-Shirt and graphics production company that produces over 1,000 shirts per hour, Kelvin is a true definition of an entrepreneur in Memphis. He went to Overton High School, which is known for its outstanding courses in Arts, Kelvin graduated in 2005 with his high school diploma. Upon graduating, he attended The University of Chattanooga, where he majored in Graphic Design. But wait, let’s travel back to the area he is originally from, Orange Mound. As we all know, Orange Mound is a very historical part of Memphis,TN. Being one of the first areas that established, it produced tons of entrepreneurs in the early years of development and had not stopped for Kelvin was raised in the midst of it all. Not only does Kelvin has a heart for arts, and Memphis,TN but his hometown, Orange Mound, where he also has established unique clothing line expressed as “The Mound Collection.” Yet his passion does not stop there, all of the majority from the collection is donated back into the community, which eventually lead to him opening a coffee shop, directly in the historic area. “I’m very passionate about The Mound,” said Kelvin, where he is the Board Chair Juice Orange Mound ,who mission is to develop and advance self-reliance by building capacity and engagement among citizens and businesses in Orange Mound and the larger community.
Within this organization Kelvin has helped construct multiple community based resources in the Orange Mound Area, including a possible entrepreneurship center, which will have a host of resources for entrepreneurs trying to make a difference. “I never give myself all the credit,” said the very humbled and well rounded Kelvin, “our community board is a team, and we all work hard to make a difference which directs our passion to see change in Orange Mound.”
From Fed-Ex Kinkos to The Tee Shirt Lab of Memphis
Kevin conversed about his ups and downs while getting to the point in life he is in now, he explained, “I really can’t remember all the highs nor lows, but one thing I really can talk about is the importance of understanding failures.” Kelvin, believes in pressing forward while leaving the pain of hardships behind him, having a tunnel vision is what put him in the position he is in today. At the age of 18, while attending UT Chattanooga, Kelvin worked for FedEx, creating graphics and projects for different franchises including the very know Krystal’s. He expressed the long nights and early mornings he had because of working the third shift for the company. Yet Kelvin didn’t know that one day he will have a franchise of his own. After working for FedEx for 6 years, Kelvin decided, that he didn’t want to work for anyone, anymore. So, with his creative abilities and his entrepreneurship mindset, Kelvin came up with a idea, that is The Tee Shirt Lab, which has had four stores opening throughout the mid-south, now having one of its main stores in Whitehaven.
The Tee Shirt Lab has conducted business with multiple personnel, including large establishments like, colleges, small as well as large businesses and a lot for The City Of Memphis. The company runs some major productions, with 200-250 shirts being its minimum quantity in printing, The Tee Shirt Lab is known to be a major screen printing company. Believe it or not, the company started in a 2 car-garage, and has come a long way since then, having different franchises in Atlanta and Nashville. When Kelvin expressed his lows, he didn’t hide the fact that it hurts to see everything one day and lose it the next. He explained his business lows were merely lessons, after closing one of his stores in Memphis. Yet to be an entrepreneur, he feels, knowledge to the community about what entrepreneurship really is, is needed to teach the truth about it to millennials and individuals who are looking to start businesses. “The community needs this,” said Kelvin,” honestly if I knew at 18 what I had to go through to get to where I am now, I probably wouldn’t have done it, but education is key.”
Not only does Kelvin have a passion for entrepreneurship,business his people and Memphis, yet his family and art as well. He is a very loving husband as well as father, who takes value to his family. Working hard with his wife beside him, Kelvin used his wife’s encouraging words to find his way back to himself. That started after he conducted a six foot art portrait of his daughter, a few pieces of the late Martin Luther King Jr, during his birthday celebration here in Downtown Memphis, as well as murals and a multitude of other pieces, which eventually showed his true talents, Kelvin also had a passion for art.
Black Art-Ish, one of the many creative establishments that have steamed from Kelvin’s head, has been one of the biggest art shows that have ever been conducted in Memphis. Not knowing how big the event could actually become, yet with an entrepreneur mindset, Kelvin and his wife started it in the summer of 2018. Kelvin bragged on his soul mate, stating that she was the motivation behind his doings, encouraging him one day to, “get up and do something with this,” as she watched him complete multiple portraits in their home. At first, Kelvin hung up art for a very long time, knowing that his passion for entrepreneurship had over shadowed it, as well as his love for his franchise The Tee Shirt Lab. But, his wife was there, uplifting him and staying close by supporting his talents and dreams. It was time for Kelvin to use all of them.This also proved that a strong woman can help a man complete his vision when she is the right one, he explained that she has been by his side every since, even helping set up photo shoots for his artist, and always lending a helping hand. This is not proves what black art can do for a community, yet what black love could for a talent and all over vision as well, creating something as beautiful and intellectual as to what they did. Since then, it has all been in the books, Black Art-Ish Memphis Art Show has been a hit.
So then, it happened, Kelvin held his first Black Art-Ish gallery on Summer Avenue. “I was very impressed with the numbers,” said Kelvin,” we had a little over 500 people attend and the atmosphere was exciting.” Kelvin teamed up with very known artist around Memphis to complete his vision. He felt that since he was just entering the art world again that he should find those who are more established in the field, and create a show that we have never seen before, with black arts and history. Kelvin ,made history in Memphis indeed, the show did not just consist of artist around Memphis, yet sculptors, musicians and poets as well. This was all forms of black arts in one room from literature to visual.
Well, they did not stop of course, Black Art-Ish will be held again in Memphis this June. This year’s event will be more amazing and BIGGER, having over 30 artist in attendance with an expected audience of over 1,200 people. Kelvin was even more excited to announce that the event will be held at The Children’s Museum of Memphis, which has a more historic view and exactly what he needed, a great amount of space. Kelvin explained if he could give any advice to entrepreneurs in greater Memphis or anyone is to keep networking, for it is key as well as knowing the difference between failures and success. “Some people think failure is on one side and and success is on the other, and if you fail you cannot get to success, but that is not true, in order to get to success, you have to go through failure because honestly, it is in the middle.”
For more information on The Tee Shirt Lab and Black Art-Ish visit the establishments on their Instagram or all social media platforms. Also check in with Conversations with Evonne for more information on upcoming events including Black Art-Ish Memphis. I am Kahdejah Evonne and thanks for tuning into Conversations with Evonne. This is 9012MyCity What’s Going On In Memphis, and please remember always be blessed, have a wonderful week and weekend from the Conversations with Evonne family. With best regards,
–Kahdejah Evonne Stevens
Owner of Conversations with Evonne Platform Content and Blogging