Student designer finds success with fashion start-up
Monumentality, a month-old clothing line, has already made $100 in T-shirts
November 14, 2011, 11:36 pm·
Entrepreneurship is not just for Wharton kids. College freshman Monica Kwok is celebrating the continuing success of her one-month-old clothing line called Monumentality.
Her artistic process begins with “play[ing] around with color” on Photoshop to create designs. Kwok then submits the designs to nearby print shops where 36 to 40 shirts are made delivered to her for distribution.
Kwok stressed that she has pooled not only her own resources, but also the talents of her friends in beginning her start-up. Kwok used the knowledge from an eighth grade computer class to program her own website and asked her friends to model for the pictures.
Because the idea started at Penn, “I really want to get Penn students involved” said Kwok.
She created the products with the help of fellow student graphic designers, stylists and photographers. Kwok finds that students at Penn “are very willing to share their talent here, it’s beautiful.” The mentality among those helping her is that both parties benefit, as both are doing “what they love to do.”
Kwok had never planned on going into the fashion industry, and her company was born in a flash. “I had an idea and I went with it,” she said. Although never “an avid Vogue reader,” Kwok said she knows “what looks good.” A Los Angeles native, Kwok is inspired by “the LA look,” and keeps her prices suitable to students.
The name Monumentality is a conglomeration of the words monumental and mentality. “I want to bring big ideas to today’s youth,” Kwok explained.
College freshman Alexandra Roman, who modeled for Kwok, said “Monica is really passionate about starting this line, and is going to all sorts of lengths to get this off the ground.”
Monumentality’s website currently features a variety of graphic shirts, pins and a backpack.
Kwok is currently working on building a “name” for her brand as well as gaining back her initial, personal investment.
Though it might seem daunting to start a business without having taken any business classes, Kwok is using skills she learned during her extracurricular work in high school.
Fundraising for her high school debate team is where Kwok “learned to make funds,” as “kids really work hard on making money” to support their respective activities. She used the skills she learned to recruit an investor for her company.
“The entrepreneur has always been inside of me — I thought of it as a way to keep debate afloat,” she added.
At the moment “business is really good,” and Kwok is working hard to increase her website’s visibility. She has already sold $100 worth of profit in t-shirts. She owes some of this profit to fellow Penn students who are “supportive and generous in buying my clothes.”
Dedicated to giving back to her community, Kwok recently finished her “Boss Babe” crop top, the profits of which will go to the charity Women Against Abuse.
Kwok is working on coming up with new designs as well as a line of documentary-style YouTube videos called Monumental Movement. The videos will celebrate the “monumental” talents of some of her peers, she said, adding that they will feature unicycling, dancing and rapping on the part of Penn students.