Hellbent and Venture: Student’s Passion for Fashion Brings Inspiration to Wilde Lake

Freshman Jonah Campbell wears his Venture shirt from Axel Mancia’s brand to school.

Blaiz Blackston

Freshman Jonah Campbell wears his Venture shirt from Axel Mancia’s brand to school.

Young entrepreneurs at Wilde Lake, senior Mert Sezer and sophomore Axel Mancia, created their own fashion brands this school year. Since then, Wildecats have purchased pieces from their brands while being inspired by their messages. 

Mert created his brand, Hellbent, when he decided to try designing a t-shirt using Photoshop. While on Photoshop, he chose the name Hellbent for his brand. He says the meaning of the word spoke to him.

“The definition [of Hellbent] really stuck with me because it means that you’re willing to do whatever it takes and work as hard as possible for your dreams to come true,” Mert said. 

From watching Mert, Axel was given the “courage” to establish his own clothing brand. Axel’s brand, Venture, means “risky journey,” which is a message he wants to use to inspire others. 

“Sometimes, people are scared to take the risk because they want to go with the safer option,” Axel said. “I’m trying to tell everybody to take the risk.”Axel describes his brand as “successful” because he has made back the money that he put into the clothes. 

In addition to sales, both Axel and Mert have seen their businesses support their futures.

Mert says he did not apply to any colleges until he discovered a program through Urban Outfitters and Drexel University. He was accepted into the program and will attend Drexel University in the fall of 2023. 

“[Fashion] got me into college. I didn’t think I could go to college [before I got accepted into the program],” said Mert. 

For Axel, Venture gave him hands-on experience that he says will benefit him later in life. “I hoped to get some knowledge on how to run a business so I can use that in the future,” Axel said. “I’ve learned new things and I think it is definitely worth the experience.” 

On top of personal gain, these student-run brands have inspired students at Wilde Lake, according to sophomore Lauren Sykes. She says Axel is “increasing self-confidence amongst students at Wilde Lake” through his most popular item, the “Love Yourself” sweatshirt.

Along with the positive messages, Lauren says the student-run clothing brands follow the Ohana motto of Wilde Lake.

“When you walk in the hallways and you see another person with the ‘Love Yourself” sweatshirt, you give each other a little smile,” said Lauren. “It is sort of a sense of Ohana.” 

Axel and Mert hope to continue to spread positive messages within the community. 

“The message that I really want to get out to people with my brand is that clothes are really a way of expressing yourself,” said Mert. “Fashion can create an escape for some people. The clothes you wear change how you feel.”