Photograph by Marlena Raines
At Berkeley High School (BHS), Nike and Adidas aren’t the only brands you see students showcasing down the halls. We’ve reached a point in time where instead of students buying all their clothes at department stores in the suburbs, modeling for a multi-billion dollar clothing industry, many have turned to small and local clothing brands. The designers and CEO’s of some of these smaller clothing businesses are in fact BHS students. BHS student-run clothing brand Interstellar has impacted the playful and limitless style of the BHS community.
The students who run these clothing brands don’t have any managing, marketing, or business experience, so creating a brand of their own was challenging and required motivation. Despite this, BHS juniors Nina Smith and Sophie Devaney created Interstellar, a clothing business which creates hand-drawn and screen-printed bags, sweatshirts, shoes, and handmade earrings. The idea to create their own business sparked in April 2018. “We were both already making products for our friends and we wanted to make them available for a wider audience,” said Smith.
Being that Interstellar’s products are handmade as oppose to designed digitally, most of their products are made to order.
“Customers approach us with orders mainly by [Direct Message] on our Instagram,” said Smith. The costumers can either choose from preexisting products displayed on Instagram, or can work with Devaney and Smith to customize their own product. “[Interstellar] is unique in that it’s their designs. It’s more fun and cute than pop culture designs that you’d get at Vans or Zumiez,” said Lena Haber, a BHS junior and Interstellar costumer.
Since April 2018, when Interstellar transformed from a mere hobby into a growing business, they have sold close to eighty products, reaching not only friends and family, but recently BHS students in general. This is impressive given Interstellar’s commitment to making their products by hand, the fact that their business is so young, and that Devaney and Smith are the only creators of the products.
“As it has grown and we have started to get more orders, it doesn’t feel like a thing we do on the side anymore because it takes up more space in our lives. We are high school students and have other commitments, so it’s hard to devote the majority of our time to Interstellar the way we would if it was our full-time job,” Smith explained.
However, Devaney and Smith have found ways to work around this, mainly by recognizing how “incredibly rewarding it is for [them] to find success doing something [they] love.”
Since starting Interstellar, both Devaney and Smith have learned a great deal about collaboration and about recognizing their creative talents. Smith said, “We’ve learned to value ourselves as artists, and to become comfortable putting a price on our products.”