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SPECIAL REPORT: Local entrepreneur gives back and hopes to spark creativity

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An Imperial Valley native wins a T-shirt design competition and uses the proceeds to invest in a printing studio

BRAWLEY, Calif. (KYMA, KECY) - Born and raised in the Imperial Valley, 25-year-old Nethaneal Zechariah went from working a consulting job in Los Angeles to an overnight internet sensation.

The young entrepreneur won a T-shirt design competition hosted by Hidden NY, a streetwear account with nearly 400-thousand Instagram followers, including A-listers like Drake, Pharrell Williams, and Virgil Abloh.

"The funny part was I designed 5 designs and the design I created on my phone was the one that won," said Zechariah.

Little did the valley native know this win would be the tip of the iceberg he needed to jumpstart his dream of opening a design studio in his hometown, Without Wax Studios.

“The guy from the Valley, from the middle of nowhere was up against 40 designers from all over the world and I ended up being 1st place it was a blessing,” stated Zechariah.

A blessing that caught the attention of Grammy-nominated Latin pop star J Balvin.

“I just woke up to my friend sending me his story and I was like holy crap J Balvin is in my T-shirt. And a T-shirt I designed on my phone,” said Zechariah.

Zechariah's T-shirt design hit the Internet, selling over 600 tee's, and he would cash in on half the proceeds. The winnings went into the creation of Without Wax Studios, a screen-printing business in Brawley. The unique name of his business also has a special meaning to the CEO.

"Without Wax Studios the name derives from latin. It’s a translation from latin and sincera and it’s where you get the word sincere. But sincera what that means is without waxing because sculptures back in the day when they would create them, if there were cracks or imperfections they would cover it with wax. So when you say without wax that means you’re sincere with who you are you’re okay with the imperfections or you’re perfect the way you are and that’s what I wanted us to be about," explained Zechariah.

Calling it the creative boys and girls club, the entrepreneur says the studio is designed to make customers and friends comfortable and inspired.

The business is also revolved around family.

Zechariah hired his younger brother, Josiah. The pair hope Without Wax Studios provides upcoming youth with a safe place to express themselves artistically.

Moving forward, the brothers hope to expand the shop to big, fashion-driven cities like Los Angeles and New York, but their driving force will always circle back to their roots, the Imperial Valley.

Imperial County / News / Top Stories / Video

Dominique Newland

Dominique joined KYMA in June 2019 as a Sunrise anchor. She was born in New Jersey but raised in Carmel, Indiana.

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