Contrary to the typical minimalism of a college male’s bedroom, nearly every inch of Andrew Jerzewski’s walls are filled with unique illustrations, photographs and posters. His desk and dresser act as workstations, and on his floor sits a hot press and materials for silk screening.
“My whole room is basically a workshop,” Jerzewski said.
It is in the bedroom of his Douglass Street home that he devotes hours of his time to planning, designing, producing and promoting his self-made brand – Zelf Clothing.
Branded as psychedelic street wear, Jerzewski developed the Zelf brand in 2014. His line consists of T-shirts, long sleeves, crew necks and hoodies.
The brand’s unique name was influenced by the self-fulfillment concept in Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “At the top, is self-actualization. It is when a person realizes their full potential in life and I guess, is self-satisfied.”
But Jerzewski started from the bottom in terms of creating his business.
From hand-drawn illustrations and self-designed graphics on Illustrator, to a silk screening kit yielding many trials and errors, Jerzewski has had to teach himself how to execute each step of the production process.
“I do everything myself. I’m growing with my graphic design skills because the clothing is only as good as those skills.”
To print the actual garments, he uses two different processes.
The first is silk screening, a printing technique that uses a printed stencil, emulsion and light exposure to create a negative image on a mesh screen, that is then inked over and transferred onto the garment.
Second, a heat press takes graphically designed images, and once printed and meticulously cut out, are positioned and pressurized onto the garment.
“I like silk screening more than the heat press. A heat press is easy and with silk screening, everything has its own personality because there is always going to be something different [on the garment] or positioned differently.”
As for the designs on Zelf clothing, graphics range from variances of the Zelf brand name and logo to psychedelic cats and the brand’s exclusive “Zelf Man.”
Inspirations behind these designs include EDM and hip hop, artists and other street wear brands. He also credits his father, who has a business of his own, as the motivator for his entrance into the business world.
“I love business, clothes and art so much that I’ve combined them all.”
These passions have been Jerzewski’s driving force in creating and building his brand. The marketing and logistics major has made marketing, promotions and communication a top priority in raising brand awareness and generating sales.
Social media has had a tremendous impact on people discovering Zelf. He keeps followers continuously updated through the Zelf website, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all of which display the many customizable t-shirt color and design options.
“If it wasn’t for social media, I wouldn’t have the sales that I do or a way to communicate my brand.”
Social media has led to Zelf’s expansion and development into what he calls a family. Through social media, he has communicated with artists, illustrators and musicians in hopes to produce others designs and feature music on his site, ultimately exposing their name and work.
“Zelf is influenced by me, but the goal is to get many people involved with the brand. I don’t want it to be my brand, I want it to be everyone’s brand.”
As for now, Jerzewski’s line is growing and gaining interest from those all over the map – and it’s evident he’s on to something good. What started as a hobby has evolved into a living, breathing clothing brand and is fueling Jerzewski’s future ambitions and post-graduation endeavors.
“My business is officially organized, now I am taking orders. The framework is laid, everything is there.”
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