When Cyrus Tetteh was a freshman at the University of Michigan, he found himself completely dissatisfied with his college course load. The classes he had worked for so long to attend just didn't seem as engaging or as applicable as he had hoped. Cyrus became bored, fast. But instead of slacking off or partying the semester away, Tetteh took a different approach: he started making t-shirts.
Over five years later, that brand survives as a testament to Tetteh's audacious personality and eye for creative design. Cool Club Clothing was once a logo sketched on a piece of math homework. On Wednesday, the brand will unveil its latest clothing collection (below) as a part of Springfest's annual fashion show, showcasing innovative student and alumni design.
When Tetteth designed his first CCC t-shirt as a freshman, he was just looking for a way to code his lifestyle into graphics. CCC was originally meant as self-expression, a way for Tetteh to express his interest in hip hop through clothing he alone wanted to wear. But once other students started connecting with the brand, they asked Tetteh to make more. Before long, the brand was up and running. "I became the guy that was, like, selling clothes on campus," Tetteh said with a laugh. "I always made time for Cool Club."
In the five years since, Tetteh has become more than just a guy selling clothes. At graduation last spring, an old friend came up to Tetteh to wish him luck: Michigan football wide receiver Devin Funchess. Funchess told him that if he ever needed any help, he'd be happy to work with the brand he loved. Today, Funchess plays for the Carolina Panthers, and is collaborating with Cool Club on a football-inspired apparel collection. 20% of the proceeds from that collection will fund a U of M scholarship to benefit Detroit Public Schools graduates.
Almost since the beginning, he has seen his business as a way to give back to the community and help launch others' dreams as well as his own. Years ago, he partnered with the Black Business Students Association on another collection, the proceeds of which created a fund for a student start-up. Michigan football star Denard Robinson also collaborated on another socially conscious collection, signing autographs and meeting students in his free time.
The end goal for Cyrus and CCC: use his passion for design to help others grow. "I went back to my old high school," Tetteh explained, "and did a collaborative collection with them." He loved the opportunity to engage younger students in the design process and show them where ambition can take them years down the line. Now, a high school fashion group continues to design and even put on fashion shows with Tetteh's support and guidance.
Tetteh is excited to bring Cool Club back to his alma mater at Springfest. Tetteh's tongue-in-cheek designs feature a playful cartoon he's created called Dewey, superimposed on beloved children's characters like Corduroy and Super Grover. There's some cool designs," he said. "I'm excited to put them in the show."
See Cyrus' latest designs this Wednesday April 12 from 12-12:30pm at the SpringFest Fashion Show. The event will take place on North University St outside of the Hill Auditorium. Tickets are free.