Article: Catch the VSN

Nov 15, 2021 | Business, Impact

Note: This article originally appeared in the Ruston Daily Leader on Nov. 12, 2021. 
Written by Caleb Daniels 

For the past few years, Ruston has been home to what is now a multi-million-dollar clothing company led by two young Louisiana Tech graduates from urban New Orleans.

The WRLDINVSN brand was established by Nicholas Clark, a 2018 Tech graduate in graphic design, and Marlon Watts, a
2018 Tech graduate in business who also played four years as a wide receiver for the Bulldog football team.

Clark and Watts founded WRLDINVSN, pronounced “world in vision,” while they were still in high school and have since transformed what was originally a hobby into a recognizable brand that brought in $3.2 million in sales in 2020.

The pair of best friends have gone from selling t-shirts to schoolmates to make money for their families as 14-year-old boys in 2010 to moving into Ruston’s Monster Moto building in 2021, employing around 40 people and ramping up sales to a potential $6 million this year, with their eyes on constructing their own headquarters in the near future.

Throughout every step of the process, the two young entrepreneurs have focused on a message that’s “more than just clothes” as they seek to inspire anyone who feels stagnant or trapped, regardless of their environment or circumstances.

“We always tell people we don’t just sell clothes,” Clark said. “We sell an intangible feeling that you can rise above and do something different than what you’ve experienced.

“It’s a culture — something people can take and learn from and use to help them get to the next level. It’s about giving people hope.”

Clark and Watts were the first people in their families to graduate from college. Their majors in graphic design and business helped solidify the skills each of them used in building their brand, with Clark creating the clothing designs and Watts handling the financials.

But more than that, they say it was their time in the business accelerator program at Tech’s Technology Business Development Center, led by Kathy Wyatt, that really equipped them to succeed.

“We were able to take everything they were teaching us and really apply it to our business,” Clark said. “They gave us free office space, where I was able to be in front of Miss Kathy, and she was like the mama bear there to guide us throughout the way.”

From the 500-square-foot room provided them in Tech’s Enterprise Center, WRLDINVSN began to expand, hiring their first employee and outgrowing their space with the amount of product that was coming in and being shipped out to customers.

It was soon after graduating in 2018 that the pair first felt the taste of success and realized their dream was starting to become a reality.

Clark recalled going to that year’s Essence Festival and selling their clothes to attendees.

“We never paid ourselves a dime from this company,” he said. “At Essence Fest we did $18,000 in a weekend, the most we ever did. Right after that, we got our first check: $500 apiece.”

That was the moment, Clark said, when they knew it was time to fully invest in the business and leave all safeguards behind.

“We’re out of school, what are we doing to do?” he said. “Are we going to apply to work somewhere, or are we going to take this thing seriously and get it going?”

Get it going they did.

They moved to a space in Tech Pointe in 2020 and eventually outgrew that as well. Finally, they leased the Monster Moto building in January of this year.

“We looked like babies when we got here because it’s such a big building, but now we’re filling up the space,” Clark said.

WRLDINVSN employs many college students from the area, and the founders, not much older than their workers, say they want them to treat their time with the business as a springboard to success.

“They’re not coming here to work for me, they’re coming here to work with me on projects, and when they leave they’ll go work on other projects,” Clark said. “We want to think that what we’re doing here is just working on a project. I let people that come here know this is their trampoline to get you to the next level.”

Clark said they wouldn’t be where they are without those who helped guide them along the way, and now they want to do that for the next generation of creatives.

“We have to,” he said. “In order to see the new entrepreneurs, to have more stories like us.”

One way they’ve been able to do that is by partnering with Tech’s College of Business (COB) to establish a WRLDINVSN scholarship for a student to attend the college.

The scholarship was originally funded by a collaborative COB shirt, and now the company plans to continue putting money into the fund that it raises through holding events like the recent “Run for a VSN” 5K held last week at their headquarters.

WRLDINVSN plans to be in Ruston long-term and continue spreading their positive message locally and abroad.

“I want to say thank you Ruston for taking us in with open hands,” Clark said. “We love you, we appreciate everything.

“It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you started. Keep going, in whatever you’re trying to do. You don’t have to buy a t-shirt to support me. You support me by being your best self.”