(Source: The Hidden)
Not All Heroes Wear Capes:
Some Wear The Hidden
Have you ever had a hard time fitting in? Ever felt like you didn’t belong or like you couldn’t be yourself? You aren’t alone. Across the world, across all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, anything that makes you different from another human being…that is where that feeling comes from, where the divides in humanity are found, where bullying thrives. Many turn a blind eye to this kind of bullying that comes from people being different and many of those bullied for being different don’t stand up for themselves to have their voice be heard. It takes guts, it takes passion, but most of all it takes perspective. Let me introduce you to a brand with a message that embodies all three of these ideals: The Hidden.
Started just a year ago, by Babson College entrepreneur Wes Woodson, this brand is already having a powerful impact on the lives of many struggling with the divide of “fitting in”. I had the opportunity to sit down with Wes to hear his story, to hear what inspired him, to hear just how powerful positivity can be, and to capture the incredible message of his brand to share with all of you:
YOU SHOULDN’T HAVE TO TO HIDE A PART OF WHO YOU ARE TO FIT IN.
“Everything happens for a reason”
What inspired Wes to start The Hidden?
Like many inspirational messages that readily spread light, Wes found the root of his in the darkest years of his life. Wes grew up in a neighborhood that he couldn’t connect with; he felt “too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids”. To make matters worse, at age 12 he was diagnosed with vitiligo (the same disease as Michael Jackson) as white spots began to appear on his skin. To other kids it was a sign saying, “Hey this kid stands out”, leading them to bully him consistently. Wes described that “it got so bad that I would walk with my hands in my pocket, my hood up, and kept a low profile.”
This cycle of bullying from the age of 12 to 14 “killed his confidence and self-esteem.” However, once he turned 18, he came to a realization that he had “messed up” by “hiding who he was to please other people”, and more consequently he had “hurt his love for himself.” That’s when he came up with his thesis a sort of mantra for life, “No one should have to hide a part of themselves to fit in.” This is the source of his brand’s message that has taken shape into a line of apparel to continuously reinforce The Hidden’s mantra of self-love.
“Find the light in the darkness”
How did Wes launch the brand?
Like most mantras, they are an intangible idea or message, but what better way to make a mantra tangible than being able to wear it. That is what lead Wes to design his own clothing line and produce his first batch of inventory that sold out IMMEDIATELY.
Even after he got all the positive feedback, he was still hesitant to call The Hidden a clothing line, because in his mind “people aren’t buying into the clothing line they are buying into the story and the message behind it.” People resonated so much with the message, that they wanted to buy into it, they wanted to embody it in a physical way.
At first, Wes didn’t think he could be that forthcoming or vulnerable about his past, but the initial burst of support kicked Wes into high gear as he realized how much value he could add to the lives of others with his story and brand. He threw himself fully into the business, leveraged the Babson College network around him, and brought The Hidden into the light!
“The One-On-One Connection is SO key”
What’s next for The Hidden?
With his brand’s mantra gaining traction and the clothing line spreading the message of positivity like a catalyst, the key question in Wes’s mind was how to get his message out, “not to exploit it for a profit but to get the message to as many people as possible.” After getting the opportunity to speak to a group of high school students in Boston about his entrepreneurial journey, that’s when it clicked: he would use speaking engagements to spread the message and tell the story. The “one on one connection” as Wes calls it.
After hearing his story, people were inspired to tell their own, tagging him as their source of inspiration. Seeing how much value he can add to people’s lives moved him in a way he couldn’t have imagined, “It brought me to tears, I’m gonna be honest”, Wes commented during our interview with a look of wonder still in his eyes. The journey has already been a great ride for Wes but “the hidden” truth is… the ride has just begun as people everywhere continue to be empowered by his story!
“Be Not Afraid To Stand Alone”
This Untold story is a prime example that even in darkness there is light, you just have to adopt the right perspective to find it. This holds true for business and life overall when it comes to shaping your perspective and global mindset. As humans we are not all that different from one another, we just choose to see the small differences instead of the countless similarities we share. It is a sad reality but when faced by it be brave, be you, and never hide a part of who you are to fit in. If Wes’s story resonates with you, check out The Hidden’s brand page and support its message. Remember, not all heroes wear capes!
By Claudia Rodriguez- Babson Class of 2020 – Untold Business Contributor