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How Briana Wilson Went From College Dropout to Owning a Six-Figure Business in Three Years
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How Briana Wilson Went From College Dropout to Owning a Six-Figure Business in Three Years

It was a typical spring afternoon in Los Angeles and the entertainment capital of the world was on brand: a paradise of good weather. Upon entering a luxury high-rise apartment complex in the heart of downtown, I was met with multiple smiles. I returned the kind gesture (not often practiced in LA), glanced at my phone to confirm the room number, and said the resident’s name: Briana Wilson. The concierge nodded in understanding and led me to the elevator. After the doors closed, I made my way up… all the way up.

I thought briefly to myself how our missteps are often as important, if not more important, than our steps in the journey to the top. Those moments not only mold you, but they grow you and they are often a testament to who you really are. If you have a setback, are you going to allow it to stop you completely or are you going to take it as an L, and understand that there is more work to be done on the pursuit of what you want?

Briana Wilson is living proof that you can work really hard, collect those L's in stride, and in the end, still get it right.

The North Texas native is the mastermind behind MATTE, a thriving fashion line with simplistic everyday essentials.

Wilson’s designs have been featured in mainstream magazines, flooded Millennials’ social media timelines, and has been photographed on celeb influencers like Bella Hadid, Kim Kardashian, Keke Palmer, Teyana Taylor, Draya Michele and Karrueche Tran thanks to overeager paparazzi.

Moments after knocking on the door to her LA apartment, Briana greeted me with a saccharine smile, such a contrast from the usual badassness her features typically serve in IG photos. I am reminded of someone I've known for years as opposed to the mere seconds that had just transpired between two strangers. She took no time in filling me in on who she is and how her journey to MATTE all started. Humbly as ever, back in Texas in the 90s.

“I didn’t know shit about brands,” she admitted. “But I always cared about my appearance and the way clothes fit on people.”

Her mom noticed her appreciation for clothing early on and suggested a broadcast position that would fulfill her love for fashion and not cost a single cent.

After high school, Wilson counted down the days until she left the nest. A visit to Texas Southern University (TSU) on a college tour sparked her interest in the School of Communication.

For more than three years, Wilson juggled coursework while being a waitress at Twin Peaks, a popular sports bar in Houston. When she wasn’t working, attending classes, or modeling part-time, she was traveling and relishing in her early 20s. Around that time, she also began reading numerous books to quench her budding entrepreneurial thirst, including The Secret, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success and The Alchemist.

However, just one semester shy of a journalism degree, Wilson decided to move to the East Coast after being fired from Twin Peaks. She found that she was no longer interested in delivering on-air weather forecasts and instead, stepped out on faith. She quit school, sold her Jeep for $2,000, and moved to Far Rockaway, NY where her entrepreneurial skills were pumped into high gear.

There, she learned all about production, shipping, and running an e-commerce business while watching her boyfriend, Kobi McLemore, build Death Precision, a brand he had been perfecting since the age of 16. Through him and lessons she had learned, she was inspired to begin her own line.

“I really took notice one day when he found a striped t-shirt from a store next to the bus stop we always took,” Wilson shared. “He made $2,000 in one week.”

Within a year, she was ready to sell and maximize her own social media presence. Wilson purchased mesh and crochet tops online wholesale and found a jewelry designer to create customized necklaces, which would become the first items sold by MATTE. Her opening weekend goal was $4,000. At the time, she was living with McLemore in New Jersey.

“It was a humbling moment,” Wilson stated. “I might’ve made $300 the first weekend.”

Because she only met 7.5-percent of her goal, this was the first time she thought she would have to pack up everything and move back to Texas. There was no money and she was painfully broke.

Just before she was planning to move home from NY, she received a phone call from a friend with an enticing housing offer. Despite her initial doubt, she checked out the available living room space and it was a good fit. Plus, she didn’t have to sign a lease or pay a deposit.

It wasn’t her ideal living situation, but MATTE’s sales kept her afloat as she started to focus on selling hot-ticket items. In her words, it wasn't perfect, but she was doing well, which was a step up from previous months of everyday struggle.

Wilson lived there for about eight months before she was involved in a near-fatal car accident that resulted from rear-ending another vehicle while pulling into a Brooklyn gas station. “I immediately started freaking out,” Wilson recalled. “I put the truck in reverse to move off the other car.”

The other driver—a visibly angry man—yelled for Wilson not to move the truck to prevent any further damage. She thought she put the truck in park but it must have been in reverse or neutral.

As Wilson exited the truck and proceeded to walk behind her vehicle to the opposite side of the car, the truck rolled backwards, pinning her left leg between the base of a light pole and the truck’s bumper. The other driver hopped in the truck and immediately freed Wilson. Her main injury was a broken femur bone, the longest and strongest bone in your body. But like any purposeful entrepreneur, Wilson continued to run her business from the hospital bed.

She also started reading The Kybalion: A Study of The Hermetic Philosophy of Ancient Egypt and Greece. Reading the book reminded her that you can't feel happiness truly without feeling an equal amount of pain.

[Tweet "You can't truly know happiness without feeling an equal amount of pain."]

After her two-week hospital stay, Wilson relied on crutches for three months. She began to feel like it was time to switch locations and decided to move to LA. This move found her bank account balance looking right at $10,000 and she felt like things could only get better.

“I started making the most money when I moved to LA,” Wilson revealed.

Within the past year, Wilson has launched three additional lines under the MATTE Brand: WORKING GIRL, LEISURE, and FORWARD. Some of her most popular designs include bodysuits, leggings, and bikini bottoms. Scrolling through MATTE’s Instagram and Twitter profiles is guaranteed to take your mind to dirty places, as the fit and design of her clothing are created to leave little to nothing to the imagination. “I always wanted my clothes to be tight and to accentuate whatever I had going on.”

Wilson has a secure business flow and knows the basis of what makes a good company. She also has a solid team: Kristopher Welcome, Head of Operations; Sara Gomez, Customer Service Coordinator; and McLemore is the Graphic Design Artist (and still riding by his woman’s side). You can follow their day-to-day business operations on the MATTE video blog. Like her style, the video blog is straightforward and sometimes NSFW. Most importantly, she spoils her loyal customer base with consistency.

“You have to be consistent. I’ve never taken a business class but remaining consistent has got me so far as a businesswoman.”

Consistency paired with grand slam online marketing tactics has taken Wilson’s designs around the globe. A recent fashion shoot with a photographer revealed MATTE was popular among young adults in a European town known for Renaissance architecture.

MATTE Brand is expected to exceed a million dollars in sales this year.

“After going through so many lessons last year, I’ve found exactly what I need to do. I’m still standing.”


Kenneth Ware Jr. is a freelance writer with a smile as big as his home state Texas and a personality as lively as his new home, Los Angeles. You can usually find him in the middle of a dance floor or retrieving the 4-1-1 from your favorite celebrity, sometimes on a dance floor. Pics or it didn’t happen, right? Follow him on Instagram and Twitter at@KennethWareJr.

 

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