Kalilah Wright is making a statement, one t-shirt at a time

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.

Website: https://www.messinabottle.com/

Photo Credit: Shae McCoy

What’s playing at Baltimore Center Stage

For over three decades, Baltimore Center Stage has succeeded at delivering quality performances through their classical and contemporary way of bringing innovative and enjoyable theatrical entertainment.

Recently, the theater wrapped up their latest production, a religious-based play, The Christians. The play highlighted different challenges faced within most modern-day mega-churches throughout America, and even featured guest performances from a few local church choirs around Baltimore. The Christians attracted a great crown every night, as it ran from September 7th, all the way to October 8th.


Photo: Lloyd Fox

The Christians specifically examines leadership and faith. Faith is fundamentally what we have all been discussing since 9/11. The church in this play is a metaphor for our communities and our country. What happens when you no longer trust those you have entrusted to lead you?” Kwame Kwei-Armah, Baltimore Center Stage Artistic Director, expressed. “I’m thrilled to bring this production to Baltimore and for Center Stage to serve as a convener of many more conversations about leadership–in Baltimore, in Maryland, and in our country.”

On October 19th, the theater debuted the newest play remake, Shakespeare In Love, which is based on the infamous screenplay, written by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard. The original film released in 1998 and was directed by John Madden. It starred award-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who portrayed Viola de Lesseps, Shakespeare’s love interest, and Joseph Fiennes, as the honorable William Shakespeare, himself. It depicts the story of an imaginary love affair between the two, while Shakespeare was writing the legendary Romeo and Juliet story. Chronicling the film’s plot, Baltimore Center Stage’s version of Shakespeare In Love is sure to command the crowd, as it is proclaimed as a great show for the entire family. Though a fifteen-minute intermission is included, this production is expected to run for about two hours and twenty-five minutes. Shakespeare In Love will run until Nov.26th.

Next up on the list happens to be Lookingglass Alice, which will debut at the theater on November 30th and run until December 31st, bringing the year to a close. Lookingglass Alice serves as a playoff of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland novel, the sequel, Through The Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. This production puts a new age twist on the classic tale, making it a pleasuring show for all generations. Attendees will get to witness Alice’s thrilling journey of self-discovery after she falls through the looking glass and is taken on an imaginative voyage to remember. “Joyous and smart, playful and wise.” The Chicago Tribune recounted. Lookingglass Alice, the play, is adapted by David Catlin and directed by Jeremy B. Cohen.

Baltimore Center Stage will open the new year with Skeleton Crew, the third play in Detroit-bred playwright Dominique Morisseau’s celebrated The Detroit Projects trilogy. You may be familiar with Morisseau from her work on Showtime’s acclaimed television series, Shameless, which she serves as a writer. However, Morisseau is back to give us a little more of what’s happening in ‘The D.’ Skeleton Crew follows the story of four factory workers at the last exporting auto plant in Detroit, Michigan, and their struggle to survive after their way of life suddenly starts to fade. Set in 2008, as economic adversities arise, affecting the workplace, the workers continue trying to effectively keep the plant running, while true colors are shown, loyalties are tested, and boundaries are crossed. Skeleton Crew is also a part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival. Contrast to the others, this production is actually recommended for high school-aged audiences and up, as it features explicit language and adult content.

According to New York Times, it is ‘warm-blooded, astute, and a very fine new play.’ One that is, without a doubt, a sure must-see. Skeleton Crew will make its introduction on January 25th, 2018; the ending date is March 4th.

Get your tickets, today, by visiting https://www.centerstage.org

Lawanda Johnson was the web content manager for the then-known, The UB Post, in 2017.

Baltimore, the leading location for women in business

Women in business are said to be more successful in Baltimore

By Lawanda Johnson

Digital Content Manager

The ongoing battle for women’s equality in the world of business has been a tough battle to fight, especially within the United States. Historically speaking, men have been more likely to obtain a white-collar job inside of the workplace, than women. Even today, that is still, sadly, the case. You have female candidates who have effectively shown qualities that could very well be beneficial to a company, but, instead, they are pushed to the wayside, solely due to their gender. Though men are culturally expected to lead, where does that leave the women? Overshadowed by the stereotype that men are generally more equipped to adequately drive the wheel of business? Are we saying that a woman doesn’t have the ability to get ahead in the corporate world? What are we basing that on? So many questions are going unanswered. Both socially and politically, women face a level of injustice, and, unfortunately, it’s a harsh reality for a lot of women in today’s business realm, as well. Thus, restraining them from the potential of actually successfully running or even, possibly, owning a business.

However, according to recent reports from ShareFile.com, Baltimore has been deemed the leading location for women in business. The city ranked number one in ShareFile’s Businesswomen Power City Index observation—which evaluated cities’ percentage of women-owned businesses, the amount of executive positions held by women, and, also, compared the wages of men and women, along with the cost of living for women.

 

     Statistics of top cities in America for Businesswomen /ShareFile.com

During the findings, it was discovered that Baltimore holds a high percentage of women-owned businesses and everyday businesswomen who are occupying executive roles, 23% of which are the women-owned businesses and 31% of women holding executive jobs, in the area. The high buying power for women, also, solidified the city’s first place, creating a great milestone for the Charm City and its business professionals.

Baltimore’s ranking exceeded other major metropolitan cities, such as Tampa, FL and Washington, D.C.—with Tampa following in second and D.C. in third. This poses the question, “Why are we number one?” Well, it’s simple; traffic for businesses in Baltimore is considerably rapid. With both D.C. and New York being its next-door neighbors, the possibilities to network with others around the business community—migrating throughout the area, and grow the efficiency of a business are endless.

“Baltimore is a great city to work in because, although it is a smaller ‘big city,’ it is centrally located to other larger metropolitan areas.” Owner of Garnering Change Psychotherapy, Heather Garner, explains. “In two hours on the train, you can be in New York City, forty-five minutes and you can be in Washington D.C., and in an hour, you can be in Philadelphia. With a smaller population than cities close by, and so many unique communities and groups here in Baltimore, networking is super easy, and word-of-mouth referrals are often the bread and butter of small businesses.”

Surprisingly, though one would assume that the working grounds in a city like Baltimore are extremely competitive, Garner says that the business community is actually very supportive and close-knit, which has contributed to the amount of businesses that are still active and why we are carrying the leading title.

Student Spotlight

Students making the most of summer

Students are making their way back to UB after a much needed summer break. Surviving spring semester, whether undergrad or grad, is a great achievement. Nonetheless, summer is the ultimate reward. While some students spent summer working or taking a course, others had the time to travel, network and enjoy it.

Three students made the best of their summers, including sightseeing around the world. Maurice Washington, a Publications Design Major went on a friendly family vacation to Jamaica for a week. This was his first time seeing Jamaica and he wanted to soak up every moment. “We spent our time at Ocho Rios. I loved Dunn’s River Falls. I did a lot of swimming in the ocean, deep sea snorkeling, and enjoying the peacefulness and scenery,” Washington says.

With two more semesters to go before graduation, Washington wanted to remember what he calls one of his best vacations. When asked about anything interesting in Jamaica, he surprisingly joked about there being a lot of Burger Kings. “I enjoyed going to the street food vendors and taste testing different food…especially the Jerk chicken.”

Regina Pratscher, Applied Information Technology major, left Mary- land to travel to New York to meet up with one of her good friends. From there, Pratscher flew to Europe and stayed for a month. She then visited Germany, Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia.

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“I like to travel. I love to go back to Austria, where I’m from. This summer was insanely hot, so I spent most of my time by the pool and exploring their cities and countries,” Pratscher adds. Relaxation was a goal she set for the summer and now she’s ready to get back into the swing of things, taking some programming courses and a fun elective, Zombies in Pop Culture for the fall.

The majority of Sharay Bennett’s summer consisted of work and summer classes, until she got an invite to the Summer Spirit music Festival, where Grammy winning R&B and neo-soul acts Erykah Badu, Anthony Hamilton, Tony! Toni! Tone! and Floetry performed. The Publications Design major listed the festival as her biggest highlight of the summer. “I got to see my favorite artists, Estelle, The Junkyard Band, and Avery Sunshine perform,” she adds. “Great seats, good music and nice company. It was the best experience.”

Now these three students, along with other students can share their summer activities with their new classmates and professors.

Photo Credit: Regina Pratscher

April 2015 Issue

It’s a bittersweet moment as the Spring semester ends. Many are graduating and continuing on to their paths of success.  As some of you may know (or not know), there will be a major change to our staff for the Fall semester. Our Production Manager, Robert Summerville, Editor in Chief, Jessica Greenstein, Business Manager Keiya West and Managing Editor, Andrew Klein will all be graduating! We wish them the best of success going forward in their career. You will get to meet the new staff in the Fall. This is our last issue for the Spring semester.  Happy Spring and Summer!

Check out our April 2015 issue below. This is issue is on stands now. Pick up your copy!

UB Post April Issue

Spotlight UB presents a performance by Aspen String Trio

Shall We Dance?

You do not want to miss a wonderful event happening this March! The Spotlight UB will be bringing the Aspen String Trio to the University of Baltimore. See the flyer for more details.

When: Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Where:  21 W. Mt. Royal Avenue

Wright Theater | Univerisity of Baltimore Student Center

When: 7:00 p.m.

Tickets: $15/ general admission

$10/seniors/UB faculty and staff

$5/students and alumni

Purchase tickets: www.etix.com (search for “UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE”)

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