EAST LANSING – Justin Mensinger always had a vision. Both his love for clothing and passion for purpose influenced him to find out what he could create if he combined the two.
Mensinger had an interest in streetwear, a type of clothing inspired by hip-hop and skateboarding culture. Streetwear often includes graphic T-shirts and sweatshirts.
The idea to start a streetwear clothing company began when Mensinger was in high school. Mensinger started his journey unsure how to silkscreen, the process of transferring ink onto a T-shirt. He didn’t know how to use Photoshop and had never ran a business before. Mensinger did not let these hurdles stop him from making his vision come to life.
It wasn’t until Mensinger’s freshman year at Michigan State University he started taking serious action to get his business running. His lack of experience pushed him to experiment. He found himself at Hobby Lobby after class picking out iron-on letters and bleaching clothing in his dorm room sink.
After much reflection, he created a title that represents the message he wants to spread, Always Dream Never Sleep, often shortened to ADNS. Mensinger wants to separate his company from other streetwear brands by bringing meaning to his clothing.
“They (other clothing brands) just don’t have any true meaning. It’s like a catchy song with a good beat but the words don’t amount to anything,” said Mensinger.
After he came up with the name ADNS, things started to move fast. Mensinger’s grandmother taught him to sew tags into his clothing. He learned to silkscreen, advanced his photography skills, and began networking.
“I’m trying to beat everyone. I’m running at 1,000 miles per hour, that’s why I don’t ever sleep,” said Mensinger.
He uses social media to connect with his customers. He personally ships out all the orders and runs the website.
Carlos Villarreal, one of his two brand promoters out of Chicago said although they have competition, ADNS comes out on top because of the brands consistency and professionalism.
“There are multiple brands around us but I feel like people would rather mess with us, honestly,” said Villarreal, “even though they are friends with the person that makes those clothes, they still know our stuff is top notch. Justin puts hard work into that.”
Mensinger said the company has come a long way in the past year because he is passionate about what he is doing.
“It’s not really like work because every time I put out something or am making something, I’m not necessarily doing it just to say I made it or for the money,” said Menninger. “It’s not about that. I want to provide the end user with something so when someone wears it they know what it stands for.”
Mensinger will be transferring to the University of Illinois at Chicago in the fall. The city originally inspired his interest in streetwear. With the move, he sees the quality and content of the clothing advancing.
“I want to get to the level where I’m a household name, but more so than that, I want it to have meaning. I want it to motivate people, inspire people, show them that their dreams are possible because my dream is clothing,” said Menninger. “I want to get to the point where a lot of people know what it stands for and know the meaning behind it and they see why I created it.”
A mentor to Mensinger, Branden Longuemire, has supported ADNS from the moment he met Mensinger at a concert a year and a half ago. Longuemire is a music performer who likes to support young entrepreneurs in the Lansing area.
“Justin is probably one of the rare people I met in Lansing who has a brand and who actually has a vision of creating something,” said Longuemire. “It’s rare.”
Longuemire said he promotes the brand by wearing ADNS during performances and photoshoots. He says he helps support ADNS because it spreads a message that encourages people to go after their dreams, despite the opinions of others.
“Justin is very bold in his message and it’s a positive message we need to hear in a place where mediocre has become a new norm,” said Longuemire.
Mensinger has come a long way but doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon. He said as long as he’s positively influencing others, it’s enough for him, regardless of the amount of money he’ll earn.
His mindset has brought him much success already and he believes if he keeps up the work, he can make it to the top of the streetwear industry.
You can check out Mensinger’s work at http://www.adns.clothing.