It all began when Bryson '27, his mother Jaclyn, and younger brother Justin were shopping for school clothes just over a year ago. He realized that they didn't see any shirts that had any positive or uplifting messages on them. Instead, many of the slogans promoted video games or trendy words that lacked meaning. Rather than settling on what was already on the store racks, their mom, Jaclyn, asked what the boys were going to do about it. An entrepreneur herself, Jaclyn runs A Spirit of Joy, which features organic skincare, body butter, and shower steamers with a variety of soothing scents.
The apple didn’t fall far. The boys rose to the occasion and got to work, designing t-shirts, jewelry, and journals that featured positive messages and inspired kindness. Not long after, We Shine
was born. They currently have about 70 designs in toddler, youth, and adult sizes.
Bryson and Justin find inspiration just about everywhere, especially at home where purpose, positivity, and encouragement are pillars of their values as a family. They create new apparel by using slogans they use in their everyday lives. Things like: Be the Nice Kid, Be Great Today, and Why Fit in When You Were Born to Stand Out are all of the affirmations heard on a daily basis around their house that have now become positive messages people can wear.
Bryson shared that his mother would often write him and his brother sweet notes with inspirational messages on them. One of the messages she frequently penned was “Work Hard. Be Kind. Have Fun,” which is now one of their most popular designs.
Attention to detail and a focus on high-quality products are a priority for the team. They keep inventory at their house but use an outside vendor to print. Shipping is very quick and particular attention is paid to the selection of fabric, ensuring that the t-shirts are extremely soft and comfortable. Each order placed also includes a personal note from the family.
In February 2020, We Shine
officially launched in the local West Hartford kids pop-up market, which was to be the beginning of many live events. Like so many, COVID foiled their plans a bit. “We definitely did not expect COVID to hit," Bryson said. “This prevented us from doing a bunch of shows that we had planned.” However, this did not deter the savvy businessmen. The duo is persevering through adversity and the result is a great deal of positive momentum. Their online sales have soared; they ramped up their strong social media presence and were recently interviewed with Ann Nyberg on News 8
. This was a big step for the company in terms of publicity. The long-term goal for We Shine
is to have stores pick up the line so it is more accessible and continue to spread their brand globally. “We want positivity worldwide,” he said.
“We have definitely had to put in a lot of work,” said Bryson “We all sit down and think of designs and new slogans. It takes a lot to keep this business running, but it takes baby steps to get to the big steps.”