Lauren Michelle McGee
A team of City College students from Nevada City, California have created Vlux Visual, a limited edition Artwear brand that supports evolving artists.
The company provides a platform for underrepresented artists to showcase their work. They print the art onto clothing and add unique elements to make it original. The business jump started when Adam Verhasselt, the founder, enrolled in City College’s Enterprise Launch course last year. He joined forces with friends from his hometown, who he said each have a unique skill set that is cohesive to their shared vision. Enterprise launch served as a foundation for their ideas, providing tools to create an original brand and launch the business successfully.
“When you’re working with people that have been brought up on your same values it gives confidence to the whole operation,” Verhasselt said. “We’re like a family. All of the communication and understanding is already there and we can just execute.”
The concept for the business originated in Italy when Adam Verhasselt, the founder, began selling his artwork on clothing while studying abroad.
“There are thousands of artists in Italy and I was just doing my best to get it out there,” Verhasselt said.
Lacking support from credible brands, he said he struggled to reach customers. He saw a business opportunity to help other artists like himself.
“I want the brand to be something where the underdog can finally get recognition.”
Each artist receives 50 percent of the profits of all sales of their work and a lifetime slot in the Vlux gallery.
“The biggest problem with people who try to start a business is they just think about it and they never actually try to do something”, said Ryley Peterson, a business student who focuses on marketing and production at Vlux. “If someone has the drive to do something and to sink some time and thought into it, they can get it done.”
The concept finally took form when he enrolled in Enterprise Launch, a hands-on course that provides students with essential tools to develop their business ideas.
“It made business more approachable,” Verhasselt said. He feared he “didn’t stand a chance” when it seemed so many people knew more than him.
The class requires students to submit a new business pitch each week. The best pitch is awarded $200 every two weeks. “It’s like the Hunger Games of business,” he said.
They learned that in order to profit in such a limited market, they must hone in on what makes the brand unique. They implemented several elements into the products to solidify originality, primarily time and exclusivity. All products are sold as limited edition for one month only. With each feature, only 99 pieces are produced, with the exact edition number visible on the garment, making it truly one-of-a-kind. Also, all shipments include a card with a signature of the artist on it, as a tangible element that adds authenticity.
At the end of the Enterprise Launch class, the team took first place in the demo day competition and the New Venture Challenge, which gave them thousands of dollars in funding.
“I’m super grateful for SBCC. The Enterprise Launch class saved my life,” Verhasselt said.
“The coolest thing about all this is seeing a design in my head, then seeing it on my computer, then seeing it on a physical product.”
While Vlux currently seeks out artists primarily through instagram, they plan to expand their scope by holding art competitions at City College.
“Playing around with art is my passion. Vlux is a great creative output”, said Will Young, a Graphic Design student who recently joined the team. His artistic style is characterized as “grime”, which will be featured in an upcoming release.
Everyone is encouraged to submit their work for a chance to be featured. If interested, it is best to email the company directly at [email protected]. To view their work or make a purchase, visit their website.