Kalilah Wright: “Mess in a Bottle”
In the times that we live in, merely working at a typical 9-5 just doesn’t cut it anymore. More women are leaving their cookie-cutter lifestyles and branching out on the path to becoming an entrepreneur. Some talk themselves out of their dreams because of the fear of failure, while others muster up enough faith and strength to push through their passion. I decided to seek out and interview amazing, everyday women who have made it their duty to push the envelope of entrepreneurship despite the challenges. It would only be fitting to feature a few of these women creating history or should I say “her-story” here on the blog once a month.
I conducted my very first of many interviews with the beautiful soul Kalilah Wright. She is a single mother of an 3 year old son, hustler, and CEO of the T-shirt company “Mess in a Bottle.” Per Wright, her company creates products that are “emotional, thought provoking, and expressive to the current climate of the world.” Her products include, but are not limited to t-shirts, mugs, pillow cases, pens, and jackets. I stumbled upon Kalilah after being added to a closed business branding group on social media and her posts were so inspiring to me that I felt the need to interview her as soon as possible.
The name Mess in a Bottle derived from Kalilah’s desire to display messages on her products. Kalilah explained that the name “Message in a Bottle” had already been taken when she initially started her business, so she decided to coin the name “Mess in a bottle” and ran with it. “Mess” would represent the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Wright. In our interview, Kalilah stated that she wanted to create messages to allow people to be vocal without saying anything at all. She accomplished that and so much more with her catchy phrases and original designs. Kalilah’s messages through her apparel are both innovative and creative and always up on the times. They reflect both political and social aspects of the current events. She is always quick on her toes when it comes to new phrases on her products and her advertising is always on point, visual, and relatable.
Now what I love most about her product is the packaging. Mess in a Bottle isn’t just a cute name for her online t-shirt shop. Her shirts come inside of a cute reusable bottle. It’s very reminiscing to the message that would travel in a bottle through bodies of water. Except in this case the messages are printed on stylish t-shirts and are sent via USPS.
At the age of 4 years old, Kalilah’s parents decided to immigrate from Jamaica to Brooklyn, NY. She moved to Baltimore, MD 8 years ago and frequently visits New York. Wright earned her master’s degree in architecture and design. With her degrees and skills, Kalilah managed to land a job creating interior store layouts for Under Armor for two years. Now I know what you may be thinking, who would leave Under Armor? Well, some people just have that entrepreneurial spirit and Kalilah is one of them. When I asked this question, she explained that at the time, she owned a baby furniture company and needed some extra cash flow to maintain the business. She learned that selling t-shirts would yield a faster turnaround time and help fund her original business. Her side hustle became overwhelming over time and it began to interfere with her day job at Under Armor. She eventually made the big decision to step out on faith and make the pursuit to turn her side hustle into a full time her business. Kalilah currently has two assistants and up to five virtual assistants who all play a part in customer service, responding to emails, and invoicing to maintain the flow of Mess in a Bottle.
Kalilah was featured on the variety talk show “Harry” hosted by Grammy and Emmy winner Harry Connick, Jr. and it has made a difference in sales for Mess in a Bottle. Wright said that the experience was an amazing feeling and it wasn’t planned at all. It was initially orchestrated by a friend of hers that was looking out. She said that everything seemed to happen within a matter of days. Her friend told her that the Harry show was looking to feature entrepreneurs for the next episode. After getting wind of that info, Kalilah called and spoke to the casting director to find out about getting on the show. When the episode aired, she received an enormous amount of attention and a big jump in sales.
I asked Wright if there are any ethical concerns that she might deal with while running her business. She mentioned that she does run into some difficulties when creating her political shirts. Her overall brand supports others opinions, but sometimes they may not agree with her own. Since this benefits her business, she is willing to overcome that difference.
She sees Mess in a Bottle ten years down the line as a big corporation and not just a T-shirt company. Wright mentioned that she’d like to be able to go outside of shirts one day and expand to other products as well. She is working on a few projects currently that will assist in leading Mess in a Bottle in that direction. Kalilah is also transitioning into preparing her business for the uncertainties of life. I asked what she thinks would happen to her business if she was no longer here. Kalilah said that she is in the process of putting together a mess in a bottle handbook on how to operate the business that would also include her vendor information so that the business would continue to run smoothly whether she is here or not.
As we closed out our interview, I asked Kalilah if there was any advice that she would give anyone trying to start a business of their own. She said that someone new to the scene should stay true to their process. Kalilah mentioned that the biggest issues that she has run across in business are finances, minimal capital, and time management. So many people have their own answers to how their business works. She said that it’s necessary to figure things out on your own. What works for one person will not always work for the next. Kalilah said that the amazing part about building a business is that we create our own path with no formula. She mentioned that she sticks to using her own intuition and gut feelings to make her decisions. I must say that I completely agree with this way of thinking. You won’t get too far trying to be like anyone else but yourself. No two businesses are going to be alike even if they are in the same niche. Do you boo boo!
I’ve got my “Mess” in a Bottle. “Get Your Life Write. Bloggerlife.”
Grab yours at www.messinabottle.com
You can also follow Mess In A Bottle on:
Instagram @messinabottle and Facebook @ MESS in a Bottle
I’m so happy to have been able to speak with this queen and “mompreneur” about her prospering business. She kept it real and let me know that it’s no walk in the park or for the faint of heart. If I hadn’t mentioned this enough, Kalilah Wright is an inspiration on every level. She embodies what the definition of a true hustler is. Watching her grow and expand her brand over time is like watching one of your home girls finally make it to the top. Her small wins are big for all of us. She literally started from the ground up and can only go higher from here on out.
This interview is the first of so many to come. If you haven’t followed the blog already, go ahead and do so to keep up with the latest and greatest as Favored Freauxs continues to grow. We’ll be featuring a new woman creating “Her-story” each month.