Maybe you’ve seen Serena Williams rock her “QUEEN” army fatigue jacket in Paris as she prepared for Wimbledon, Luvvie Ajayi soliciting support for her on Instagram or Lena Waithe on the 2017 BET Awards red carpet wearing a “Keep Creating Dope A** Sh*t Until Someone Notices” t-shirt. If you’ve ever wondered who the woman was behind the Mess in a Bottle brand, her name is Kalilah Wright and her “messages” are here to inspire.
The 34-year-old is an immigrant from Jamaica who came to the United States at five years old with no parents. However, a life of hardship did not stop her from rising up the ranks to earn a masters degree in Architecture from Morgan State University. With a life full of hard learned lessons and her degree, Kalilah went on to work for Kevin Plank of Under Armour as a store planner and architect. Armed with a six figure salary, husband and baby, she was still unfulfilled and in a space where she constantly searched for her purpose. It wasn’t her first time questioning why she was here. “At a really young age, I wanted to commit suicide,” Kalilah shared.
“I remember being really young, questioning my purpose for living, but then there would be this voice in me that said I was destined to become someone. And that’s something that has always stuck with me through my years. Even now when I have my periods of uncertainty, I think of that.”
Then one day at work in a town hall meeting, she heard Plank give a speech about how proud he was to have started his own company from the ground up in a city that he loves, Baltimore. During this time, there was a lot on her mind — professionally and personally. She was going through a divorce and feeling lost, but Plank’s words spoke to her. Those words birthed the desire to create her own mark. Months after that speech, during Baltimore’s uprising in the wake of Freddy Gray’s murder, to find peace, she began listening to Chance the Rapper’s debut studio album, Surf, where the cover art is a message in a bottle. One month after that day at her desk, she quit her six-figure “dream job” and gave birth to Mess in a Bottle.
Shortly after she moved into her first design studio, she was robbed and held at gunpoint.
“At the time, I wanted to give up,” Kalilah explains. “I remember sharing my story on Facebook, and then brand marketing guru Bozoma Saint John posted it, then others, and it just went viral. Immediately, we got over two thousand orders.”
That support is what helped Kalilah persevere. She continued on with her business by faith because she knew her dream would inspire others. She did not know if it was going to be successful, but she had found her purpose and passion, and that’s all that matters. Two years later, the brand is the one we know and love today, and there’s no stopping her now.
Kalilah Wright’s life story is seamlessly embedded into her brand, and the message on one of her shirts sums up her life’s mantra perfectly, “Just keep going, signed the universe.”