By Nelson Hubbell
If you’ve ever been walking around Grand Rapids Community College’s campus during the early afternoon, you might have come across a gentleman wearing a hoodie or t-shirt with bright colors, smiley faces, and hearts on them. You might also recognize him for his big, bright, and infectious smile.
That gentleman’s name is Javon Shivers, a 25-year-old former business student at GRCC. Oh, and the clothing that he’s wearing? Those are his very own creations.
A little over four years ago, Shivers was studying business at GRCC. Another example of how he’s always been of an entrepreneurial mindset. Unfortunately, Javon was dealing with struggles in his personal life, so he decided to drop out.
“I was at a low point in my life,” he said.
Like many of us, he was struggling to figure out his future. Fast forward to the summer of 2021, Shivers created a clothing brand called Human Nature Universe (HNU). “I wrote it down as one of my goals and somehow it just kinda happened.”
He made his first Instagram post on Sept. 21, and it’s been rolling ever since.
Shivers’ brand is all about bringing positive energy. From the bright colors set back on neutrals like gray or black to the shapes and designs on the clothes. Those are also some of the things that he says his customers like most about his shirt designs. But for him, the brand is also about doing something that he has a passion for.
“I like being my own boss and I like fashion,” he said. “I also buy and resell clothing, which I did before I started my brand, so I’ve always liked clothes.”
Starting a business can be a grind, and that’s why you’ll see Javon going up to people downtown and asking them to follow his Instagram page @human.nature.universe. He recently moved back to Grand Rapids, and he was hustling the same way while he was back home in Saginaw, except at Saginaw Valley State University (where he was not a student). He’s also gone to sporting events, festivals, and concerts. Just about anywhere that Javon can find large concentrations of people roaming around he goes in order to grow his following.
The idea of going up to strangers and making conversation with them would be foreign to Javon as a kid.
“In his younger years he was very shy,” said Tenesha Davis, Shivers’ mom. “High school he really got out of his shell and started getting comfortable just talking to people more.” It was around that same time that Javons’ interests in being an entrepreneur began to form. “He started out doing sports as a kid and that’s what he was pretty much into. As he got into high school and he was a little older he started having the idea of doing his own business,” Davis said.
HNU has nearly reached 2,000 followers on Instagram. Building a following on social media can be slow in the initial stages, but once it gets rolling a snowball effect often occurs, and the follower numbers can begin to skyrocket exponentially.
Shivers said he’s always been a creative guy, even when he was just a kid. “Growing up in Saginaw was fun,” Shivers said. “I had a great childhood.”
He cites his mother as a key influence on guiding him to pursue what he feels is best for him in life.
He’s got big dreams for Human Nature Universe.
“I want HNU to be a worldwide, known clothing brand,” he said, adding that he’d like to see his brand sold in stores including: Marshalls, Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, PacSun, Zumiez, and Dover Street Market.
Except for Dover Street Market, all of those stores are American based. Dover Street Market is based in London, England with locations in America, while the other listed stores all also have locations overseas. This would be important considering that Javon would like to branch his brand outside the U.S.
“My vision is to elevate the brand as much as possible,” Shivers said. “I would also like my own clothing store overseas in a few countries.”
Javon does all of his graphic designing on Adobe Illustrator, and he has three more designs that he recently created and is looking forward to releasing sometime in the near future. In his downtime you’ll find him relaxing with his family, reading books, and of course, graphic designing.
Because of his recent move back to GR, Javon is transitioning between manufacturers since his old manufacturer was based in Saginaw. He’s been looking at local and online companies to make the apparel for him. Javon has shipped all of his merchandise out by hand but is hoping to eventually sell enough shirts to hire someone or a company to help him.
He currently has merchandise in stock and you can purchase some through direct messaging him on Instagram @human.nature.universe. His rates are $30 for a t-shirt. He also does custom hoodies for $50. If you like any of the custom hoodies he has already posted on his Instagram page you can also purchase one of those.
Javon’s growth of his brand hopefully inspires any of you to do something you’re passionate about. It all starts somewhere.