University of La Verne senior communications major William “Chill Will” Catlett co-owns his own clothing line called Mocha Soul. “Mocha Soul was started by me and my boy Antwoine (Washington) in 2002,” Catlett said. “The line is soulful, inspirational, positive and for everyone.” Brandon Newte, Lanier Brown and Matthew Hatch are a few of the University of La Verne students who enjoy wearing shirts from the clothing line.
William “Chill Will” Catlett gathers a group of students outside the ACB building.
As they come together, you can see a common thread: Each is wearing Mocha Soul clothing apparel.
Catlett stands among them holding his digital camera and directs them towards the train tracks along Arrow Highway. Today is a photo shoot for Catlett’s clothing line—Mocha Soul—and its newly designed Web site.
Laughter and hugs pour out of Catlett and his student models during the entire photo shoot. It’s obvious Catlett and his clothing line possess a very unique, fun and laid-back feel.
“Mocha Soul is a mixture of hip-hop and California surfer mixed together,” Catlett said. “These clothes set people free.”
Catlett, a 23-year-old University of La Verne senior radio broadcasting major, is one of the three founders of Mocha Soul clothing company.
Mocha Soul was created at San Diego Mesa College in the spring of 2002 by three college students who decided to make a clothing line that would fit a variety of tastes.
Catlett’s partner Antwoine Washington approached him with the idea one day while walking home from school. Washington and his girlfriend Kiera Doyle had come up with the name Mocha Soul, hoping it would strike a chord with everyone.
Catlett immediately took on the role of business and marketing consultant behind the clothing line. He had a vision for the company, bigger than one can imagine.
The three motivated students began printing shirts and testing them on their campus at Mesa. They started with women’s printed tees at $10.
The tees sold fast and they were surprised that the majority of their customers were white.
This confirmed to the trio that Mocha Soul was in fact a brand geared toward all types of people and personalities.
“Mocha Soul is for everyone; it’s not just for a certain type of person,” said junior radio broadcasting major Danielle DeBay. “The designs are made to show off features and make people beautiful.”
Catlett strongly believes his clothing line is not just material and stylish designs, but rather an inspiration to those who wear it. Catlett thinks we live in a crazy world, and we must not get caught up in fame and money.
“As Americans, we take up too much that we don’t take the time to really think,” Catlett said.
“When you’re feeling down and out, these shirts are reminders that you can accomplish whatever you want to do in your life,” he added.
For those who know Catlett, there is no surprise that he took on the clothing line. He is a man of many talents.
“Will is like a heart attack,” said senior liberal arts major Glennda Bivens. “He is an artist, a poet, a designer and a friend.”
“He is very innovative and you can tell by his fashion line that he pours his heart, soul and creativity into every individual piece,” she added.
Ever since Catlett was 7, growing up in Alexandria, Va., he was business-minded.
Catlett once led a protest against the ice cream truck with the kids on his block.
With the prices being too high, Catlett puts his business sense of supply and demand to work.
He was always going against the grain of his fellow peers.
Not afraid to be different, Catlett recalled wearing Payless shoes and not caring what other kids thought of him. His style was always a little different without trying, and this is what made him unique.
Growing up in a broken home with a working father, Catlett’s mother became his inspiration.
Unable to read or write herself, his mother pushed him to go to school, get an education and make it in the world. She was his driving force.
His father also helped aim him toward his dream with a continuous quote that will forever be imbedded in Catlett’s mind.
“There are a lot of dream stealers and people will steal your dream from you so it’s up to you to stay focused,” Catlett said.
Catlett’s accomplishments prove that this inspiration has helped drive him to success.
While finishing up his last semester at the University of La Verne and getting his clothing line up and running, Catlett has undertaken more than your average college student.
Catlett recently finished his senior project, which consisted of a three-minute radio air check. He also takes two days out of the week to intern at Los Angeles-based radio station 100.3 The Beat.
On his days off, he works at Aeropostale in the Montclair Plaza and at the Mojave Fish Hatchery in Victorville, where he breeds fish.
Catlett also performs at poetry venues, including A Mic and Dim Lights in the Pomona Arts Colony.
Not only does he recite his original poetry, but he also sets up a booth and sells Mocha Soul clothing as well.
Acting is another talent under Catlett’s belt. On May 7 and 9, Catlett starred in ULV’s Theater Mini-Festival production “The Physician in Spite of Himself.”
Catlett also made his comedic debut on the new local sketch comedy show “Eh-Day!” which premiered May 6.
“Acting is fun. You get different scripts and it is always changing, unlike radio,” he said.
Catlett believes that if he can break into either the radio, acting or the fashion world, the rest of his passions and dreams will follow.
“All normal humans have doubts,” Catlett said. “But if you turn those doubts into positive thoughts, you shall overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.”
Dreaming big and going for it all has got Catlett where he is today.
He has endless opportunities to make it big and the University awaits his future success.
Students and faculty here at La Verne can’t help but be touched by Catlett’s motivation and passion for life. He has been an inspiration to those all around him.
“The world is a canvas and it awaits you to paint your impression on it,” Catlett said.
Kristen Chocek can be reached at kristenchocek@ aol.com.