After A Near-Death Experience, This Young Man Created A Fashion Brand To Inspire Hope And Change

"I became who I was supposed to be."

Fashion is about more than styles and trends. It can be an artistic platform to express individuality and creativity, and a way to bring attention to important causes and movements. 

For one young man named Kevin Shaw designing garments not only became an important outlet to deal with personal struggles, but as a way to bring hope to those living in underprivileged communities. His brand, Hood Hope, is making a difference in the world by spreading messages of positivity to those who need it most.  



Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

The 21-year-old from New London, CT, told A Plus that he's had a passion for fashion and design since he was a child.  "Since the age of 12, I wanted to be a stylist for young people — girls and boys — because I've always wanted to help people dress nice so that others treat them better," he said. 

Growing up in New London — which has a high crime rate — Shaw conquered a number of obstacles that eventually led him to producing Hood Hope. He overcame his mom abandoning him when he was just 7 months old, and survived a near-fatal stabbing at 14 years old that left him with permanent nerve damage to his drawing hand. Following this event, Shaw has also battled depression.  

"They say the people who laugh the most hurt the most," he said. "That was me. I was down, I felt cursed, I felt blessed, I won, I lost, but that's life. Without the ups and downs, the ups never would've mattered. I hated when bad things happened to me. I questioned when things happened to me. But they always happened, and I got used to it."

Through the adversity, Shaw says he learned to focus on the positives, and "highlight the good things because they are rare."

"I learned to turn a frown upside down by turning it into someone else's smile. When I started helping people get on the path to becoming the person they've always wanted to be, I became who I was supposed to be."

Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

He retrained himself to draw, and was inspired to create a clothing brand that would provide hope for himself and others. 

"I was brainstorming names and just writing a bunch of words on a notepad. On November 8, 2014, I wrote the words 'Hood Hope' and I read it out loud to my friends, and right then and there I knew that was it ... It's exactly everything going on in this world. Every hood has its jungle, which means even the suburbs has its hood, too."

The Hood Hope range now includes T-shirts, hoodies, and hats with the words "Hood Hope" written on them. 

"There's no place in this world that is 100 percent safe and that's why we need hope."

Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

Shaw would like Hood Hope to be more than just a brand, and for it to become a "culture" that brings people together through events and a shared desire to help communities in need. Currently, he is putting together an event in New London that will take place on July 21 at Gus's Pizza & Bar. Artists will perform and sell their merchandise there, fundraising for both the venue and the collection.

Shaw says he is also working on a movie and a "Murder Me" T-shirt that will bring attention to the amount of violence around the world without sugarcoating the issue. 

Recently, the brand began to really gain momentum after Shaw's girlfriend, Mabel, tweeted a photo on June 16 showing Shaw putting up a poster in his room of Mabel wearing a Hood Hope T-shirt. 

As of June 23, the tweet has received 44,000 retweets, 170,000 likes, over 8.3 million impressions, and 3.2 million engagements.

Since then, Hood Hope has received national attention, with sales increasing. Shaw took to Twitter to announce that Global Diversity, an organization that provides mentoring and tutoring to adjudicated and at-risk youth, has even placed a bulk order on the T-shirts so they can distribute them to the people they work with.



"I didn't expect it to go viral, I thought it would go 'locally viral,' which is only about 200 to 500 likes," Shaw told A Plus. "[The tweet is] at about 170,000 likes right now. As soon as I started seeing it going up, and saw people not actually caring about my girlfriend Mabel's sweet tweet, but instead the shirt she was wearing, I instantly restocked new ones. Ever since then, it has been everywhere, from Twitter, to Instagram, to Facebook, and more, with an overall social media engagement of over eight million."

Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

"I hope everyone joins the family and makes it bigger than the chaos in this world."

Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

"Everything going on right now is a blessing, I don't know what to expect," Shaw said. "It has been a bumpy road, from being raised by just my father, to literally being stabbed in the back by a 'childhood friend.' A year from now, I can be stuck home still chasing my dream, or I can be around the world helping people chase theirs."

Courtesy of Hood Hope
Courtesy of Hood Hope

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