When you first see Donavin “Vito” Green, he has an energy about him that radiates — he simply stands out from the crowd.
At a ’90s themed art show titled “1992” in Charlotte, N.C., tucked away in an eclectic garage in the unsuspecting neighborhood of North Charlotte, local artists, musicians, creatives and “cool kids” who left high school more than five years ago converged to display the best the city has to offer.
In the midst of live performances, art demos and beer pong, Vito shuffles back and forth from his clothing rack, stopping to talk to someone every five seconds. It appears as though he knows everyone.
When you look a little closer, he indeed does know everyone, but he also is just performing as an entrepreneur pushing his new and up-and-coming Vito Hand-Crafted Apparel shirts that dons your favorite cities such as Montreal, Toronto, London, Atlanta and, of course, Charlotte.
“The shirts happened a couple weeks ago, Backwoods posted them on their Instagram page and it went crazy,” Vito said. “That reached like 5,000 people and I just rode that.”
Vito’s T-shirt designs are a play off of the iconic cigar company Backwoods design pattern.
“I smoke Backwoods when I choose to indulge and I just thought of the idea,” he said. “It catches the eye, because everyone in the culture can connect with Backwoods in some way.”
Vito, 25, does a little bit of everything according to him and he stands at the forefront of the creative movement coming out of Charlotte.
“I do a lot in Charlotte, I’m an event planner, I’m in school, a gardener and a designer too. I’m just cool,” he said. “I use the shirts to reach everyone I can. It can be anybody from the student to the artist.
Vito started off in fashion making bow ties a few years ago, but what he was in school for at the time didn’t really align with that.
“I went to school to be a dentist, but I changed my major from biology to community health, because one day I want to own my own dispensary,” he said. “I want to legally grow medical marijuana when it’s legal and get into cooking it as well.”
Throughout the week when he’s not having business meetings related to his brand, or passing out shirts to the hottest DJs and rappers Charlotte has to offer, he’s on campus at Johnson C. Smith University, planting and growing produce to sell at a local Farmers Market.
“My interest in healthy food is getting healthy food access into minority communities, and basically educate our people about the importance of eating healthy organic foods and how to grow it,” Vito said.
When asked how in a matter of weeks has his brand seen so much success with the majority of his site sold out, he said, “I don’t know.”
“I didn’t think it would pop like that — I’m not even gon’ front,” he said. “But it did.”
Now that things have indeed popped, Vito and his one-man show looks forward to the fall, debuting his casual designs including hoodies, button-ups and denim.
“The shirts [are] really just a great marketing tool to get me in the door,” he said. “It will allow me to get my name and face out there, to travel and meet people and take this to the next level.”