#FellowshipSpotlight | Mess in A Bottle

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MESS IN A BOTTLE @MessInABottle / messinabottle.com

Inspired by the centuries-old practice of handwritten letters sent out into the ocean in bottles, Mess in a Bottle is a message-driven custom t-shirt company. (Packaged in a reusable bottle!) The company is headed up by Kalilah Wright alongside business partner Jerome J. Hill, Jr. We met up with Kalilah at the Mess in a Bottle headquarters one morning. Their operations are centered at the Mill Centre, a shared work space housing over 80 artists, designers, architects, and tech professionals in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood.

What got you started on this creative journey? KALILAH: I'm an architect and designer by trade and I really wanted to create messages and ways for me to be vocal. This particular idea came to me during the time of the Freddie Gray riots. I was going through a really bad breakup and the city itself was in a lot of turmoil and uproar. I inspired me to want to be vocal, be loud, say something, and speak out. I was in a work environment at the time where these were really sensitive and difficult subjects to talk about. This was my way of being vocal.

Do you feel like this helped initiate conversations with people without having to say, "I wanna talk about this!"

Of course! That's what we are: a conversation starter. It's a way to put a message out there and, whether people agree or disagree, allow people to engage and start asking questions.

So it's been about three years since you started. Where do you see yourself now and what's your vision for the future?

We're just a t-shirt company now but I look forward to us expanding. We have launched Mess in a Bottle vending machines and my goal is to have these vending machines all over the world. After that, I really want to do Mess in a Bottle water and wine - expanding the company into the beverage industry.

What's BCAN brought to the table for you on this journey?

BCAN brought structure. They introduced me to the idea of investors and having other options to grow and expand my business. They allowed me to think about the different resources that could be available to me and provided support toward getting them.

Why Baltimore?

I received my Master's in architecture from Morgan State University. I was born and raised in New York but New York is an expensive place. In Baltimore, I feel like your dreams are attainable. I feel like you could go out and find a beautiful space or a space you can pour