We had the good fortune of connecting with Hayden Cleverly and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Hayden, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
A couple of years ago, I wanted to develop an interactive web platform for civic and political engagement that would help educate, inform, and engage people in State and local elections— aesthetically appealing and easy to navigate, with a big focus on UX design. The goal was to have a data-driven platform that would provide information on issues and candidates based on personal interests and present opportunities to get involved. It was a huge undertaking and I realized I had a lot to learn, which is what got me interested in data science and data analytics. But one of the brand elements//revenue streams was going to be merchandise — a fresh look for civic and political engagement, because often, to think about things differently, we have to see them differently.

Fast forward to 2020, back in June I started developing an initiative proposal to hire data staffers for downballot Candidates of Color — creating a pipeline for employment and helping downballot candidates run more effective and efficient campaigns. But, it’s a challenging time to find funding since the majority of funders are focused on COVID-19 related efforts/relief (as they should be) and the nonprofit market is pretty saturated in general, which can make securing funding a competitive and challenging process. I had a little light bulb moment to just focus on the apparel and build a brand with a different aesthetic and mission of cultivating a culture and lifestyle of civil discourse and civic engagement. In doing focusing on products that generate revenue, I hope we will be able to fund other initiatives and support nonprofits doing aligned work.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
DEMSW is rebranding political and civic engagement — leveraging the creative power of the people to design a positive new normal by creating a new entry point and a platform for connecting and communicating.

Fashion is a form of expression, a lens of individuality, an opportunity to connect, and to say something. DEMSW is more than a streetwear line, it’s a lifestyle brand — promoting a culture of civic engagement, civil discourse, and collective action. We are a conduit to help people find the creative space where their passions meet purpose.

My background has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to make this endeavor successful. My passion meets purpose at the intersection of arts, technology, and social impact. My desire to support and empower others has been a driving force since I was young and my personal and professional experiences have guided me to find a way to fuse my passions in my career. Through my work at SXSW, serving in Governor Hickenlooper’s Office of Community Partnerships & Special Initiatives, working on his presidential campaign, and doing social-impact consulting for a range of clients (many from the creative industry) — I have gained a deep understanding of the challenges that obstruct power and progress at the individual, societal, and institutional levels. And, I have developed creative solutions and initiatives to help address those challenges.

The DEMSW aesthetic is rooted in color psychology, our collections tell stories and ask questions. How do we go from seeing things in black and white, to seeing the grey area, the abstract? Change comes from thinking differently — to do so, we must see things differently.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Ooh that’s tough because I haven’t thought about activities/outings in so long! But these are things I would definitely want to include in the itinerary! Activities: – Denver Art Museum – Museum of Contemporary Art – RiNo mural and gallery walk – Any Two Parts event! – Kilgore Bookstore – Red Rocks – Long bike rides Food: – Dio Mio for sure – Oh Golly Dumplings – Rotisserie chicken banh mi from Brider – Safta – Pastry tour ft. Reunion bread, Moxie, Black Box Bakery, and hopefully some new finds! – Denver Central Market Coffee: – Huckleberry – Crema – Lavender lattes from Kaffe Landskappe

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The wonderful folks who have been helping with this project and providing support and inspiration! Catie Cook Elyssa Monet Key Session Owen Ringwall

Website: www.demsw.com
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dem.s.w/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/demsw/?viewAsMember=true
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DEMSW2
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/democrastreetwear/
Other: Personal LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hayden-cleverly-88616a55/ Personal IG: https://www.instagram.com/cleverlyhills/

Image Credits
Owen Ringwall

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDenver is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.