In the midst of Christmas gift exchange, senior student and entrepreneur Conrad Walas received a present that kickstarted his clothing business. Two years ago, Walas received his first screen printing kit from his little brother. This introduced him to the idea of printing designs on shirts and selling them.
B.K.O.D, which stands for ‘Book Club or Die,’ is a self-managed clothing line that is designed and run by Walas. The brand name is based on what he and his friend group call themselves, the ‘Book Club.’ The line consists of shirts in a variety of B.K.O.D designs. His shirts are personally hand-designed, each graphic with a different story to them, which Walas says is the attraction to B.K.O.D.
“If I want a shirt to look a certain way, I’ll make it look a certain way,” Walas said.
From ordering the shirts to designing, printing and distributing them, Walas does it all on his own. The making of these shirts is a process in itself. First, Walas draws a sketch, which is always an original design. Walas has recently started to use photoshop to make his designs. Then he takes his designs to San Rafael, where he gets them printed onto transparent sheets of paper. Afterward, the print undergoes a photo and motion process in which a negative of the print will show up on a screen. The print then is accessible whenever needed. When Walas wants to transfer the design onto a shirt, the print is laid down and ink is pressed down on top.
When making these shirts, Walas said that his passion for drawing is shown. He enjoys drawing for fun, so once he got his screen printing kit, putting his drawings onto the shirts was a natural decision.
Walas said that he never intended to build a brand through making and designing clothes, it simply started out as an idea to make some for him and his friends.
Now he has launched a website (bkodclothing.weebly.com/) and an Instagram account (bkod.prints) in order to expand a project that began within the circles of his close friends into something bigger. His classmates are becoming some of B.K.O.D ’s greatest supporters. Walas says that people like seniors Zach Pyke and William Cestarollo have been providing lots of encouragement about B.K.O.D as they wear and represent Walas’ clothes at school.
“I think it’s really cool how somebody at our school is putting in the time and the effort, and he’s not really doing it for the money because he has to put a lot of money into his supplies,” Cestarollo said. Cestarollo said that Walas is a very creative person, and it reflects in the shirts and designs, which is one of the reasons why he is supporting the B.K.O.D brand.
Even with his growing recognition and support, Walas is still unsure of a definite future for his brand.
“It really depends on how people take it. I’m not going to say that I am going to be the next biggest brand, but if it goes well, I would like to take it to college or maybe take a break before college,” Walas said.
Apart from his clothing line, Walas is also part of a band called The Speed of Light, where he has just recently been recruited as the drummer. The band is made up of 2016 alumni, Logan Gleeson, Serena Poggi and Yovanni Martinez. They perform for different private events and practice at Gleeson’s house. The Speed of Light currently has goals to gain recognition and wishes to build a bigger audience. They have plans to try out for American Idol sometime in the future as well.
The band has put on a charity concert where they invited people to come and help raise money for the wildfires in the North which was held in the Assembly Center on November 17th. They organized different bands including the concert band to come to perform, and the Speed of Light was featured during the event.