Kamryn Whitfield: Lansing native turned author and fashionista
Kamryn Whitfield went to Waverly High School in the Lansing area not too long ago, grew up in her hometown and became her own. She is now building her business empire and creative endeavors in the same place where she grew up.
Whitfield travels in all areas of creativity to bring new business and art to the Lansing area, a place where she has always wanted to be an active participant.
“It’s cool to have grown up and people recognize me and see my business…become what it is,” Whitfield said. “It’s cool to have grown up here, but I’m still here to build on what I’ve done.”
Whitfield is the founder of the Color Square Vintage clothing brand. She started 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 all over her clothes to make them truly her own. Amid the pandemic, her father told her she had the potential to make clothes for others. After a long period of debate over this, Whitfield decided to pull the trigger.
“I thought I wanted to create a professional brand and not be tasteless… I wanted to create a professional website and do it all by myself, so everything is hand dyed, hand painted and everything is made from recycled materials, said Whitfield.
Whitfield knew how to define its own style by creating this brand. His biggest sartorial influences are overseas silhouettes, colorful vintage pieces and box-cut tees, all tied to a minimalist aesthetic.
“I identify as a minimalist so I call it unique clothing for the creative minimalist mainly because I like to keep the front of the shirts a bit plain like they might have colors but the majority of the design is on the back or painted words,” Whitfield said.
Kamryn plans to move her clothing brand to the new vintage store just outside of campus, More Than Vintage. She thinks this will open up new opportunities for her clothes.
“I think [the store is] going to offer a lot just because they attract so many students and people, so it’s going to be a big expansion because there will be people every day who will come in and see my clothes and my labels in a store, “said said Whitfield. “I’m thrilled to have my clothes among these premium brands.
Since the clothing brand started, Whitfield has only done pop-up stores with its merchandise. However, these experiences have taught her that she can sell beyond Michigan’s target demographic.
“Being in the pop-up shops, I realized that my youngest person who bought was three years old…and my oldest was 90, so I realized I had a very wide range of people who loved them, men and women,” Whitfield said. “I will say that the ideal range is definitely students who tend to gravitate towards [it].”
Her new creation can be found in the Socialight Society bookstore in Lansing Mall, the same bookstore that inspired her to start writing.
“I’ve wanted to write a book for a few years, and thought of the name ‘Turn Off the Dark’ a few years ago and stuck with it,” Whitfield said of her first book.
Whitfield was browsing the shelves of the Socialight Society and found poems that inspired her to put her own words into a poetry book. Whitfield said it was an impulsive decision, only creating a three-month process to write and publish her work.
“It’s mostly black experiences,” Whitfield said. “I’ve written them all, but they have different points of view. I can totally relate to a lot of them, and some of them I can’t really relate to, but I’ve heard other people and their views. It tells a story about identity, natural hair, different political things going on, the downsides, ups and downs of black experiences and things we’ve been through.
Whitfield explained that these poems gave her a voice, something she advocates for everyone to have either in a broad political sense or just locally in their own community. She thinks her younger voice provides a different perspective, inspiring 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 than a lot of other people,” Whitfield said. “I had a variety of friends from different places and so I’m very grateful for that. . I know not everyone in Lansing has the same experience… I think I can give a lot to other people because I have a lot of different perspectives growing up here.
Whitfield was able to give back to the community recently at the June 19 celebration in Lansing as a first-time vendor, selling her book and clothing in record time at the event.
“It was cool to see people of different ages…and different demographics come to my table and read the back of my book and…check that out,” Whitfield said. “It was cool to be a part of something bigger than what I did.
She was thrilled to see that one particular event was able to bring everyone together in one place at a diverse range of events to continue celebrating the black community locally. She says these events make her believe in a positive change for her community.
Whitfield juggles all of her creative passions with equal importance and love because her ventures in the community reflect who she is and what she is truly passionate about.
“It’s an extension of growth,” Whitfield said. “I’m really grateful that the things I learned when I was younger… finally saw them come to fruition now, so I think that was meant to be really. I learned a lot when I was younger and now I can do these things and get them out there. It’s rewarding to be able to publish a book because I wanted to and to have the resources to do it…I’m very grateful.”
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