Meet Winter, Founder of Spoiled Threads

Today we’d like to introduce you to Winter Valent.

Your Story – Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.

Growing up, I was never one to fit a predetermined mold, nor have I been one to follow the path of conformity. From a young age I knew I didn’t fit in, I had icy white hair and pale skin that composed a look that would turn heads and attract stares wherever I went. As a result, I was persuaded that my uniqueness wasn’t in my favor and that I would never be enough for society’s standards. Over the course of my late teenage years, I developed an increasing struggle with mental health which became a more unwieldy force in my personal development and when I turned 17 it reached the breaking point. I went into a severe depression as I questioned everything about myself, and why I was the way I was. I desperately wanted some form of identity that I could cling to, to not be the outcast that I always was, and I was willing to change everything to find it. This desperation cost me my life due to an overdose. Though, it was in the moments after being resuscitated, broken and isolated from the world that I found my identity and greatest strength. I was a survivor. A survivor of nature’s depression, ‘Winter’, the cold blanket that snuffs out the weak and strengthens the resilient. Since that day, I championed ‘Winter’ as my name to signify my personal struggle and embracement of being a nonconformist as a source of strength rather than one of suffering. With this shift in perspective, I was able to ultimately overcome my depression and isolation to become outspoken in my mission of empowerment. 

When I transferred to the University of Southern California, I was once again faced with being ostracized due my unique look and style not fitting the carbon copy mold of what the university bookstore offered. I felt deprived from expressing my joy to be at the university of my dreams because I looked god awful in red and gold and didn’t feel comfortable in apparel that looked like it was designed decades ago.

I knew I wasn’t the only one with a disdain for the bookstore offerings, so I reached out to other students at USC and to students at other universities to discover that this problem of being underrepresented was the norm across college universities where the bookstore is the sole provider of collegiate apparel and universities efforts are directed towards building a brand name rather than fostering a community of individuality. Instead of caving in and conforming, I experimented with the concept of spray-painting denim jackets with grunge “University of Spoiled Children” lettering, a counter-culture take on university culture. Within a month of launching Spoiled Threads, I was turning heads, selling shirts out of my backpack, and proving this was more than a trend, it was a movement.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?

This journey has been one of the hardest things I’ve done in my life. I always knew I wanted to build a tangible concept with the ability to help others, so when the opportunity arose to pursue such an idea in apparel, I jumped at the opportunity. At the time I didn’t realize how entrepreneurship is a journey without a map, nor did I realize the numerous late nights, countless sacrifices, and hardships I’d have to endure to achieve my goals. Though, with the assistance and support of my mentors, Professor Albert Napoli at the Marshall School of Business at USC and Chris Cota Founder of SKINGRAFT, I’ve been able to obtain a grasp on the apparel and eCommerce sectors I interact with on a daily basis.

The other struggle I’ve experienced has been being the sole founder and sole employee of Spoiled Threads. While my dogma of unwavering determination and constant extreme pressure environment to achieve have gotten me incredibly far, I’ve often found myself against a roadblock requiring me to learn the necessary material in order to progress. As a result, I’ve had to become the “jack of all trades, master of none” and understand vast amounts of information across the facets of production and manufacturing, apparel designing, pitching, and digital marketing in order to bring my product to market and gain traction.

We’d love to hear more about your business.

Spoiled Threads produces collegiate apparel that serves as a platform of empowerment for students to express their university pride without conforming. We embrace the irony and the subcultures of universities in conjunction with contemporary fashion trends to represent university culture in an alternative approach. We have created a unique company that cultivates the raw spirit of collegiate apparel without having to conform to licensing deals, which enables students to align with our movement of empowerment and nonconformity.

Spoiled Threads was born out of my personal struggle with mental health and failure to conform. In alignment with my struggle, I made it an integral part of the company that a portion of all proceeds be donated to local mental teenage health organizations to foster a community of empowerment and solidarity. I know how it feels to be in a fight against the world and to feel so lost in your fight, though it doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t want anyone to feel like they don’t belong or aren’t good enough because they can’t fit a predetermined mold. I want them to smash that mold with everything they’ve got. When I started this concept, I had no idea the impact it would have on myself or the countless other students who have told me how they’ve been affected by what I’ve created, and it forever changed my life.