Monday, November 28, 2022

Kamryn Whitfield: Lansing native turned author and fashionista

June 28, 2022
<p>Photo courtesy of Kamryn Whitfield.</p>

Photo courtesy of Kamryn Whitfield.

Kamryn Whitfield went to Waverly High School in the Lansing area not so long ago, growing up in her hometown and coming into her own. She is now building her business empire and creative endeavors in the same place she grew up.

Whitfield is moving across all fields of creativity to bring new businesses and art to the Lansing area, somewhere she has always wanted to be an active participant.

“It’s cool to be grown up and people are recognizing me and seeing my business…become what it is," Whitfield said. "It’s cool that I’ve grown up here, but I’m still here building what I have done.”

Whitfield is the founder of the clothing brand Color Square Vintage. She began designing clothes five years ago as a freshman in her first year of college at Lansing Community College.

She designed t-shirts for herself, painting on all her clothes to make them truly hers. In the middle of the pandemic, her father told her she had the potential to make clothing for others. After a long time of debating on it, Whitfield decided to pull the trigger.

“I told myself that I wanted to create a professional brand and not be wishy-washy…I wanted to create a professional website and have everything done by me, so everything is hand-dyed, hand-painted, and everything is recycled materials,” Whitfield said.

Whitfield has been able to define her own style while making this brand. Her biggest clothing influences are overseas silhouettes, vintage, colorful pieces, and box-cut t-shirts, all tying into a minimalist aesthetic.

“I identify as a minimalist, so I call it one-off garments for the creative minimalist mainly because I like to keep the front of the shirts kind of plain like they may have colors, but the majority of the design is on the back or painted words,” Whitfield said.

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Kamryn plans to move her clothing brand into the new vintage store right outside of campus, More Than Vintage. She thinks this will allow new opportunities for her clothes.

“I think [the store is] going to offer a lot just because they get so many students and people in, so it’s going to be a big expansion because there are going to be people every day coming in and seeing my clothing and labels in a store," Whitfield said. "I’m excited having my clothes among these higher-end brands.”

Since the clothing brand started, Whitfield has only done pop-up shops with her merchandise. However, these experiences have taught her that she can sell beyond Michigan State's target demographic.

“Being at the pop-up shops, I realized that my youngest person who bought was three years old…and my oldest has been 90 years old, so I realized I have a very broad range of people who like them, men and women," Whitfield said. "I will say the ideal range is definitely college students who tend to gravitate to [it].”

Her new creation can be found in the Socialight Society bookstore in the Lansing Mall, the same bookstore that inspired her to begin writing.

“I’ve been wanting to write a book for a few years, and I thought of the name ‘Turn Off the Dark,’ a few years ago and I stuck with it,” Whitfield said about her debut book.

Whitfield was perusing the shelves of the Socialight Society and found poems that inspired her to put her own words into a poetry collection. Whitfield said it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, creating only a three-month process to write and publish her work.

“It’s mainly about black experiences," Whitfield said. "I wrote all of them, but they’re from different perspectives. A lot of them I can relate to fully, and some of them I can’t really relate to, but I heard from other people and their perspectives. It tells a story about identity, natural hair, different political things going on, disadvantages, and the highs and the lows of black experiences and things we have gone through.”

Whitfield explained that these poems gave her a voice, something that she advocates for everyone to have either in a broad political sense or just locally in their own community. She believes that her younger voice offers a different perspective, enticing people to read her story to get a better sense of what it means to be black in America.

“I went to a very diverse high school and…district in general…my black experience was different from a lot of other people's," Whitfield said. "I had a variety of friends from different places and so I’m very grateful for that. I know that not everyone in Lansing has the same experience…I think I can lend a lot to other people because I have a lot of different perspectives now growing up here.”

Whitfield was able to give back to the community recently at the Juneteenth celebration in Lansing as a vendor for the first time, selling her book and clothes in record time at the event.

“It was cool to see people of different ages…and different demographics come up to my table and read the back of my book and…check this out," Whitfield said. "It was cool to be a part of something bigger than what I’ve done.”

She was excited to see that one particular event was able to bring everyone together in one place in a diverse range of events to keep celebrating the black community locally. She said that these events make her believe in positive change for her community.

Whitfield juggles all of her creative passions with equal importance and love because her businesses in the community are a reflection of who she is and what she is truly passionate about.

"It’s an extension of growing up," Whitfield said. "I’m really grateful that the things that I’ve learned when I was younger…have finally seen them come to fruition now, so I think this was meant to be really. I have learned a lot when I was younger and now I get to actually do these things and put them out there. It’s fulfilling to be able to publish a book because I wanted to and having the resources to do them…I’m very grateful.”

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