You may have seen stickers with an italicized "F" printed in front of a bright blue and red yin-and-yang-like symbol.
They've been popping up around the Twin Cities campus, from lamp posts to bus shelters near Folwell Hall to street lights by the light rail tracks on Washington Avenue.
These stickers aren’t advertising a band or zine. They are the logo for an up-and-coming local clothing brand called Flavor World.
Creator Drew Kinkade began the brand, originally named “Flavor,” when he was in seventh grade. His first T-shirt was an iron-on design with the brand’s name, but the “O” was replaced with a chocolate donut. It faded after only a few months of wear.
“Me and my friends just wanted something that represented us,” Kinkade said.
The brand itself also faded out for a few years before Kinkade revived it while enrolled as an engineering student at the University of Minnesota.
“I was just drawing all the time,” Kinkade said. “I didn’t like [engineering]. It was very bland. At the same time, I was starting this brand again, and it was like a no-brainer.”
He eventually decided to quit school in full pursuit of building the brand, which grew to be Flavor World.
The brand’s merch resembles skater style, with tie-dye t-shirts that say “FLAVOR WORLD” across the chest and dad hats branded with "FW." Kinkade’s creative style has resembled his personal style as Flavor World evolved.
“A lot of my drawings are just wacky stuff. It doesn't really make sense,” Kinkade said. “Nothing is photorealistic. For a while, it was really troubling to me, because I felt like I was supposed to be drawing things that I saw in the world. But then I created the concept of Flavor World.”
What started as iron-on designs were then refined even further as Kinkade developed his brand.
“It was just a bunch of little steps of getting carried away,” Kinkade said. “Like, ‘Oh, I'll get better at screen printing.’ ‘I'll just buy nicer shirts.’ ‘I'll make 30 shirts instead of 20.’ All of a sudden, I’m quitting school for a creative endeavor.”
Kinkade was able to make better quality shirts and hoodies once he switched to screen printing, even adding some coozies and an infant onesie into the mix.
“I've never seen somebody so committed to something like that,” said Isaac Dickson, Kinkade’s friend. “In this day and age, you kind of have to go to school and follow the rules. But he’s going out on a limb and has a lot of faith in himself.”
Kinkade’s doodling habit became bigger than expected. Inching toward 800 followers on Instagram and selling their merch beyond Minnesota, Kinkade has found creativity to be a force for growth.
“Once I started creating art a lot more intentionally, I started to learn about myself,” Kinkade said. Flavor World is growing quickly. At its core, Flavor World is a clothing brand, but Kinkade is hoping to expand to other artistic forms, too, like video, music and even a restaurant in the future.
“It's just cool to see someone doing truly what he wants to do with his life and really following his dreams,” said Jack Matuseski, a friend of Kinkade’s. “I think a lot of us are scared to pursue something that we've dreamt up.”
While Kinkade continues to manage the brand, Flavor World knows no bounds. He’s expecting to release another drop of merch sometime this winter.
“I just want [Flavor World] to be this entity that helps bring those things together,” Kinkade. “I want it to be the link that unites all this creative energy to create one big thing.”