Canton native juggles college with growing clothing line
By Chauncey Taylor
Originally published by Oxford Stories
Things are looking up for a new clothing line from Mississippi created by a Canton native.
Tyrone “Turk” Steward, 19, has shipped his new Optimi$tik clothing line as far away as California and New Mexico. He plans to complete his second year at Holmes Community College in Jackson and continue his college career at the University of Mississippi.
Although Optimi$tik was released this year, Steward’s interest in art and clothing began long ago.
“My grandma always told me I was talented with art,” he said. “Ever since I was a kid, I (have) been able to draw and create things. I was always spending money on clothes and thought it would be cool to see my own ideas on the clothes people wore.”
Steward said his grandmother played a role in the creation of the brand.
“I actually went through four name changes before I could find that one that I really wanted to stick with,” he said. “I didn’t get the name until after my grandma passed away. Ever since then, it’s been motivation. I just feel like it’s my grandma who’s watching over me.”
Steward plans on expanding Optimistik into something bigger than a clothing line. He wants to use it as a platform to kickstart an organization that gives back locally.
“I think it could be a big deal,” he said. “I was thinking about maybe even having little league teams like football, basketball, soccer, etc.”
Longtime friend and supporter, Jordan Browder, was one of the first to receive a shirt. He has supported his friend’s ideas since the earliest sketches.
“Optimi$tik is very unique,” Browder said. “A lot of people don’t know this (is) something that he has put a lot of time into. I remember seeing these designs years ago, way before they were shirts and stuff. They were just little drawings that he had all over his notebooks in class. So seeing them now and how quickly the brand is starting to grow is crazy.”
Steward said he has countless sketches of ideas for new concepts and designs that he keeps in his room.
“I have notebooks and notebooks full of ideas,” he said. “The process sometimes has me staying up until 4 or 5 in the morning. Whenever I’m stressed or just can’t sleep, I’ll turn some music on and let my pencil do its thing. That’s actually when I come up with my best stuff.”
The clothing line is diverse. While the bulk of its catalog is an assortment of graphic T-shirts designed by Steward himself, it has branched out to jackets, hats, hoodies and sweatsuits.
Steward has forged multiple partnerships and collaborations with local photographers around the metro area. While the popularity of the brand grows, so does Steward’s clientele. Even players on the Ole Miss football team have purchased shirts from him.
Although Steward is no stranger to standing outside places and selling his clothing to people by hand, social media plays a large part in his sales. Almost 100 percent of his sales have come from social media inquiries.
As of right now, the only way to purchase Optimi$tik Streetwear is to direct message @optimistikstreetwear on Instagram or Steward’s personal page, @_tyronestewart, but a website for the brand is in the works that will allow customers to view and purchase from a full catalog of clothing.
“As of right now, we are doing really good even without it (the website),” Steward said, “but I’m positive that once there is an official website that people can actually go directly to and order clothes, there is going to be a huge increase in sales.”
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