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U of O fashion entrepreneur launches Kickstarter campaign

 Photo by Jessica Eritou

Not every athlete has a passion for sports and fashion and not every person can turn disappointment into success.

Ryan Malcolm-Campbell was recruited to play for the University of Ottawa basketball team in 2009. Things did not go according to plan and he was cut from the team in his third year of playing.

“I needed something else,” he says. “I literally started to draw for fun. Sketches became designs. Designs then turned into a clothing company.”

Using the dedication and work ethic he developed as an athlete, he applied his marketing knowledge as a business student to help establish his fashion line, King of Arts Clothing, in December 2012. While some may have been skeptical about his leap from sports to fashion, he believes as long as he’s happy and focused, something positive will come from his work.

“With basketball, I enjoyed it. Art became another outlet for me,” he says. “I’m up all night doing designs, but I love it. It doesn’t feel like work.”

On Nov. 4, he launched his first Kickstarter campaign with hopes to raise $3,000 for a project called “So Young So Bad.” The project focuses on custom print shirts depicting a 1950s Bloor Street theatre in Toronto.

Half of the money from his campaign will be put toward this project, while the other half will be for manufacturing to allow his clothing to be professional enough to sell at retail shops. Five years from now he would like to have his own flagship store.

A lot of his work comes from trial and error. As an avid sneakerhead, he drew shoes in middle school, leading him to create commissioned portraits. He began sketching original designs that eventually turned into King of Arts pieces.

“I’m a big denim guy,” he says. “I love leather and cut-and-sew styles.”

At last year’s Caribana Festival in Toronto, Malcolm-Campbell’s simple hand-drawn “Live Free” design was a huge success. Influenced by the idea of promoting togetherness, he combined the design with different countries’ colours. After the festival, he received emails and letters asking about more countries.

“They were asking me, ‘Where’s Haiti?’” he says. “I didn’t even know people were going to like it in the first place. I wasn’t prepared for that.”

He plans to incorporate a Canadian version for Canada Day next year.

Malcolm-Campbell is also sure to give back to the Ottawa community. He was involved with the E.L.E. Music Festival on campus this year, where he sold T-shirts and donated all the proceeds to the Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs.

The clothing line can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and the company website. It will also be featured in the Her Campus uOttawa fashion show Jan. 25 at the National Arts Centre, where Malcolm-Campbell will showcase his fall/winter collection.


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